Lichfield’s MP is planning to take up the issue of high speed rail with the Government’s new Transport Secretary.
The news that Philip Hammond would be moving across to fill the Defence Secretary post vacated by Liam Fox has seen Justine Greening inherit the controversial issue of HS2.
And with the proposed route set to cut through parts of Lichfield and the surrounding villages, Michael Fabricant is keen to discuss the issue with Mr Hammond’s successor.
“The Transport Select Committee is due to publish its report on HS2 in the next few weeks and this will be the first truly independent inquiry. Having spoken informally with some of the members of the Transport Committee, most believe the nation will need two extra north-south rail tracks in the future and they might as well be high speed.
“It seems that simply upgrading the West Coast Main Line would mean far fewer trains stopping at Lichfield Trent Valley. That would seriously damage the local economy. I am conscious that there is a significant community in and around Lichfield who commute daily by train to London and elsewhere.
“But evidence given to the Transport Committee reveals that the experience in France has shown that the ultra high speeds – which are proposed for HS2 – cause excessive track and wheel wear resulting in constant repairs. The French now run their ultra high speed trains at regular high speeds as a consequence.
“While I am grateful to Philip Hammond for shifting the HS2 route away from Boley Park in Lichfield which would have blighted hundreds of homes and would have been an eyesore across the city, I do question whether HS2 is the best solution for high speed rail.
“In particular, Transport Committee members tell me that their inquiries in France and Germany reveal that government policy on the continent is to use existing transport corridors and not cross virgin countryside. Labour’s HS2 route does just that.
“I will be raising these and other matters with the new Transport Secretary. And I await the findings of the Transport Committee which much anticipation.”
The issue of HS2 has split MPs across all political arties.
“I sat on the Government front bench throughout the whole debate on HS2 last Thursday (October 13) and it is clear that opinions in the House of Commons are divided,” Mr Fabricant explained.
“Those MPs representing the North and Scotland are particularly supportive of HS2 while others, including those affected by the route, believe that a new solution should be found or the whole project scrapped entirely.
“It was telling that both the Labour Party shadow minister and the Liberal-Democrat back-bench spokesman endorsed HS2.”