High Speed Rail Industry Leaders (HSRIL) has welcomed the publication of the Oakervee Review’s terms of reference, looking forward to it demonstrating the unassailable case for HS2.

With Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledging to unite the country, fully committing to HS2 is an essential first step. As part of that, HSRIL calls on the Oakervee Review to consider how HS2 can deliver a 3 hours journey to Scotland as a way of bringing the UK together and meeting our targets for net zero emissions. In addition, we urge Mr Oakervee to consider how HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail, as intrinsically complementary projects, can be made to work even more effectively together.

A recent landmark report by HSRIL shows that completing HS2 is essential for smashing the UK’s north-south divide, and that the project will deliver improved rail services to far more towns and cities than is generally realised.

The key findings of the report included:

● HS2 will smash the north-south divide by bringing Britain’s towns and cities closer together and reducing the 40% productivity gap between London and the north
● City strategies and investments are predicated on HS2 – cancelling HS2 would leave those plans in cities like Birmingham and Leeds in ruins
● Dozens more towns benefit than may be realised – some 47 towns and cities are either on HS2 line-of-route or will get better rail services using capacity released on the existing network
● Pitting HS2 against Northern Powerhouse Rail is a false choice – HS2 itself delivers a key part of the NPR ambition; choosing between them would be akin to choosing between the M1 and M62
● HS2 is essential to achieving net zero emissions and tackling the climate emergency. Today a high speed rail journey would typically yield a 90% reduction in CO2 emissions compared with flying the same route. When electrical power generation is fully decarbonised, this will be a 100% saving.
● By putting direct intercity trains on a dedicated high speed line, HS2 will allow more train services on three of the country’s most heavily congested rail routes; West Coast Main Line, East Coast Main Line and Midland Main Line
● HS2 is therefore crucial to tackling the capacity crunch on our north-south railways – every time it is assessed, HS2 comes out as the most effective and affordable way to do so
● Cutting HS2 would cost thousands of jobs – 9000 people work on the project already, with tens of thousands more set to do so.
The full report can be read here.

A spokesman for HSRIL commented:
‘Britain today is a divided country with alarming and unjust disparities in wealth and opportunity between our cities and regions. HS2 is vital to tackle that.

‘The Oakervee Review is an opportunity to confirm the value of the project once-and-for-all, and to explore how HS2 can deliver even greater benefits. In particular, we urge Mr Oakervee to consider how HS2 services could reach Scotland in three hours, in line with the Prime Minister’s commitments to the Union and to reducing domestic aviation in line with our net zero targets.

‘HS2 must be delivered in full. The evidence is overwhelming. There is no Plan B for bringing the country back together.”