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Justine Greening’s historic step towards a national high-speed rail network

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Greengauge 21 today gave a warm welcome to the Government decision to proceed with the development of HS2, the proposed new high-speed railway line between London and the West Midlands.

“Today is a major step forward for Britain – we have proceeded in only three years from launch of the first investigations by Government to a firm commitment to building a high-speed rail network,” said Jim Steer, Director of Greengauge 21. “After a thorough and inclusive consultation process, Secretary of State Justine Greening is to be congratulated on taking a clear and far-sighted decision on investing in Britain’s transport infrastructure,” he added.

Supporting documentation made available by the Department for Transport sets out the background to the Secretary of State’s decision.

“There is now clear evidence that the preferred route identified is the right corridor for HS2,” said Jim Steer. “The other routes suggested by commentators and objectors, including new alignments alongside the M40 or M1, are demonstrably inferior – they would involve longer journey times, would be between £2bn and £3bn more expensive and would affect many more communities than the preferred route.”

“Refinements to the preferred HS2 route in response to the consultation have reduced its environmental impact and will ensure that fewer people will be adversely affected by the new route. And these changes have been made while at the same time reducing the overall construction cost,” Jim Steer said: “this has been a highly effective consultation process”.

Justine Greening has worked through a lot of evidence, including the alternatives put up by objectors who argued for improving existing railway routes instead of building HS2. “Her conclusions are clear: these ideas may have some appealing benefits over the next ten years, but at the expense of significant overcrowding and deteriorating service reliability in the long run.  The Secretary of State has concluded that only HS2 will  secure the long-term future of our rail network”, added Jim Steer.

“Today is an historic date – it marks the point when the question of whether HS2 and a national high-speed rail network is a good idea or not has been decisively resolved by Government and we should move on. Now the debate needs to advance to finding the best ways to ensure all parts of the nation get the very best possible from the project”.