The Government has confirmed that HS2 will go ahead, with the industry saying ‘HS2 decision could unlock ‘golden age of rail’
Darren Caplan, Chief Executive of the Railway Industry Association, said: ‘The Railway Industry Association and our members support the Government’s decision today to get HS2 done, a decision that could unlock a new ‘golden age of rail.
‘HS2 will not just boost the UK’s economy and connectivity, but will also enable other major rail infrastructure projects to be delivered too, such as Northern Powerhouse Rail, Midlands Rail Hub, East West Rail, Crossrail 2, and a range of other schemes.
‘It will also unlock economic growth throughout the UK, not only by directly connecting eight out of ten of the UK’s largest cities, but also by increasing capacity at 73 stations serving towns and communities across the country, 54 of which aren’t even on the route. The jobs and housing benefits are clear too. HS2 already employs 10,000 people, will support 15,000 by the end of the year, and 30,000 at peak construction. And beyond the project itself, will act as a catalyst for some 500,000 jobs and 90,000 homes.
‘So we now urge everyone – whatever their previous view on HS2 – to get behind this important project and to work together with the railway industry to deliver the full scheme, whilst also ensuring value for money for passengers and taxpayers in the months and years ahead.’
Representatives of Bombardier Transportation UK and Hitachi Rail UK said: ‘This decision is a symbol of confidence in UK plc and great news for the whole country. As Britain’s biggest train manufacturers, we’re excited to continue our joint bid to design and build the Great British train here in the UK. It would support thousands of manufacturing and supply chain jobs and unite the Midlands and the North. It’s time to work together to deliver the full benefits of HS2.’
Anthony Smith, chief executive of the independent watchdog Transport Focus, said: ‘Our research shows passengers want more reliable, longer trains for the future. Reliability is the key driver of current satisfaction. And if the new trains go faster, that helps.
‘HS2 provides a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create more capacity and more reliable services. These new services will make train travel a more attractive choice and help contribute to battling climate change.’
A spokesperson for The High Speed Rail Group said: ‘No major project has ever been subjected to as much scrutiny as HS2, and this is right and proper given the public money being spent. But having had leading experts analyse HS2 for the last six months, the Government has rightly concluded that going ahead with the project is essential for their vision of ‘levelling up’ Britain and delivering a transformation of regional economies across the country.
‘With the decision taken, the industry’s focus must now be on delivering every penny of that public investment as efficiently as possible and wringing every benefit from the project. Now the debate on whether to build HS2 has been resolved, we can focus on working together to make the most of it. From Japan to France, China to Spain, high speed rail has transformed countries across the globe. Now we invite the whole country to work together on the shared national endeavour of using high speed rail to transform Britain too.’
Lizi Stewart, Transportation Managing Director at Atkins said: ‘Today’s announcement will now kick-start one of the most transformational projects ever undertaken in the UK, giving the industry the certainty it needs to focus on delivery. That said, while we welcome the commitment to the project as a whole, we urge the Government to move ahead with purpose to ensure that Phase 2 isn’t compromised, recognising that HS2’s true benefits hinge on extra capacity for cities and regions beyond Birmingham.
‘We also hope that HS2 is seen as one part of a bigger jigsaw alongside Northern Powerhouse Rail and much needed regional transport investment. Ultimately, the prize at stake is not the delivery of one railway line but the creation of three connected economic powerhouses – London, Midlands Engine and Northern City Region – driving growth and levelling up opportunity across the country.’