The Transport Select Committee has given a cautious backing for High Speed Two.
The project has met considerable opposition mainly from people along the proposed line of route as well as others who doubt the need for a high speed rail network in Britain.
‘We’re convinced there is a good case for a high speed network,’ says Louise Ellman, who leads the committee. ‘And it’s the only way that the necessary increase in capacity for passengers and freight can be delivered,’ she continued.
Louise Ellman sympathised with local objectors and said it was wrong to castigate them. However she said, ‘A high speed line offers potential economic and strategic benefits which a conventional line does not, including a dramatic improvement in connectivity between our major cities, Heathrow and other airports, and the rest of Europe.
‘High speed rail may be a catalyst for economic growth, helping to rebalance the economy and bridge the north-south divide.’ The committee remains concerned that the northern section beyond Birmingham could be 20 years away from completion. Supporters of the scheme in the north want the project ramped up. The committee also warned against starving the rest of the rail network of investment to pay for HS2.
Dan Large, spokesman for the Campaign for High Speed Rail said, ‘This is a victory for jobs in the North and the Midlands, and the moment the naysayers were proven wrong. They have told us for months that HS2 would never stand up to scrutiny, but the Transport Select Committee has decided otherwise.
‘The Select Committee, like us, believes that there is a good case for proceeding with HS2, and points out the substantial benefits to users of existing lines in terms of the num- ber of seats it would free up for commuters, as well as adding much needed overall ca- pacity to our creaking rail network.
‘They also agree with us that HS2 will bring economic benefits to the regions, and that those benefits may be even greater than predicted.’