An MP has called for an “thorough inquiry” into the business case behind the proposed high-speed rail line which would cut through a number of villages surrounding Lichfield.

Areas such as Hints and Whittington are set to be hit after the Government confirmed a preferred route for the HS2 line in December.

Christopher Pincher

And now Tamworth MP Christopher Pincher has joined Lichfield MP Michael Fabricant in writing to the chairman of the Transport Select Committee, Louise Ellman MP, urging them to look again at the necessity of the line.

Mr Pincher said:

“We need a full and detailed inquiry into this proposal and I hope that the Transport Select Committee will undertake one.  I have serious concerns about the business case for HS2 which right now I just do not think stacks up. I have also written to the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee asking her if she will also look at the proposals to see if they offer value for money for the tax payer.

“Last year I helped organise a lobby of parliament for anti HS2 campaigners – but HS2 refused to attend. If the Select Committee holds an inquiry, they will not be able to say no. It will allow them to be robustly questioned about their assumptions.”

The controversial project will soon go out to public consultation, the results of which will be passed to Secretary of State Philip Hammond in July.  He will then make a final decision on his preferred route – or whether to make changes including scrapping the entire project – before the end of the year.

Ross

Founder of Lichfield Live and editor of the site.

4 replies on “MP demands ‘thorough inquiry’ into HS2 business case”

  1. While projections continue to show that Birmingham/Manchester/London will run out of rail capacity in the next decade then HS2 is justified because connectivity between our major economic centres is too important to be ignored. The growth has to be accomadated one way or another, and a HSL with its direct, indirect and knock-on benefits is the best way to do it.

  2. Mr Pincher is right to question the business case for HS2. Much is made by the pro lobby of the comparison with other countries that have charged ahead with high-speed rail projects.
    In the Netherlands, the operator faces bankruptcy because there aren’t enough passengers http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/02/01/netherlands-rail-idINLDE71025P20110201.
    In France, TGV services are being cut because many lines are losing money http://www.presseurop.eu/en/content/news-brief-cover/171421-tgv-losing-speed.
    In Spain, vast amounts have been spent to attract relatively few customers and only Madrid has benefitted while other cities become suburbs of the capital http://www.presseurop.eu/en/content/article/458981-bullet-train-white-elephant.
    The Asian experience is no better, as Japan has discovered that benefits aren’t spread equally, http://www.cleveland.com/world/index.ssf/2010/12/high_speed_rail_no_magic_bulle.html, while China, so often cited by Transport Secretary Philip Hammond for its progressive view on HSR, has found many people taking to the buses, even for long-distance journeys, because they can’t afford high-speed train prices and slower but cheaper services have been axed http://usa.chinadaily.com.cn/business/2011-01/18/content_11882100.htm and http://chovanec.wordpress.com/2011/01/14/chinas-high-speed-rail-dilemma/.
    In Britain, HS2’s planned 14 trains an hour each way, with each train having a capacity of 1100 passengers, for at least 18 hours a day, means a capacity of 277,000 passengers each way per day.
    Yet the West Coast Main Line only carries 46,000 passengers per day today and even HS2 Ltd’s fanciful forecast of a 267% increase in passengers by 2033, to 167,000 on HS2 and the WCML combined, isn’t going to bridge that gap.
    So we too will see empty trains and a vastly reduced service for our £35billion.
    This week we learned that many councils are reducing their subsidies on local bus services because of the cuts imposed on them by the Government. Wouldn’t it make more sense to give passengers an affordable and integrated transport system instead of wasting billions on a white elephant?

  3. @Chris- we all know that rail capacity needs to be increased BUT HS2 is not the best way of achieving it. HS2 sounds great until you study the details. The point about connectivity is that the direct line needs to go to the destination eg directly to New Street not on a spur line to a new and seperate station. The potential time savings will not be realised. The demand predictions are criminally fanciful – totally sexed up and even then the economic case is marginal. Other alternatives have not been thoroughly examined. It is scandalous that taxpayers money (which is very scarce and will be in the future) is being committed WITHOUT A PUBLIC ENQUIRY. I dont know if rail package 2 is feasible , but I am sure that HS2 as it is at the moment is not.

    I personally would like to see a system which did not rely on such very high speeds which would mean that existing communication corridors could be used and that the stations were in the centres not at out of town purposebuilt stations which we will have to travel to! I also fear that the economic benefit of this scheme will be felt mainly by London and then to a lesser extent to those few places with a station.

  4. Why the need for more people to travel further and faster? Reliance on transport for work/commuting/shopping/school run is reliance on the weakest component not to give; reliance on lack of human error; and usually reliance on fossil fuels or other energy.
    Compare with the happy soul who can walk to work, to collect the kids, to shop. Who saves a stash not owning a car. Never restrained by hold-ups, constrained to timetables, and has lots of time to chat with others in the neighbourhood. “The best way to get where you’re going is to be there already.”
    HS2, I believe, will assist MPs in getting to and from London quicker. It will take money from the many other routes taken by commuters and other travellers; probably the bulk of the rail travelling public. I think current intercity rail speeds are quite adequate, allowing plenty of chat/relaxation/work/scenery watching. That’s what travel is about.

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