Friday, December 13, 2013

News: Transport Committee reaffirms backing for HS2

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The Transport Committee, a group of MPs including Rotherham MP Sarah Champion, charged by the House of Commons with scrutiny of the Department for Transport, has published its latest report on HS2.

HS2 is the Government's £50 billion high speed rail project that aims to provide extra capacity to handle increasing demand. By 2033, a South Yorkshire station will be on the proposed route from London to Leeds via Birmingham and the East Midlands.

The committee decided look again at the project following the publication of a revised business case and new research by KPMG on the project's possible regional economic benefits.

Analysis by KPMG showed that the UK will be £15 billion a year better off with HS2, recovering the cost of the scheme within just a few years. HS2 could add between £0.5 billion and £0.9 billion each year to the economic output of South Yorkshire.

With a proposed station at Meadowhall, the analysis shows that Rotherham could increase its annual economic output by between £131.7m and £272.12m due to the investment in HS2 and the re-design of the existing railway infrastructure.

The committee concludes that: "Having reviewed the revised business case for HS2 and the KPMG report on regional economic benefits we remain convinced that the project is justified. HS2 is needed to provide a long-term increase in the capacity of the railway and that alternative proposals to increase capacity are not sufficient to accommodate long-term forecast demand."

The report calls for more to be done to ensure more areas benefit from the investment in HS2, by prioritising rail projects that improve connectivity to the new line; building additional links between the conventional and high speed networks; and bringing forward projects to speed up journey times on the conventional network. It also adds that current projects such as the Northern Hub, should also be speeded up, in order to provide firmer evidence of the project's broader benefits.

The importance of the project in boosting economic growth and rebalancing the economy is also discussed. The committee makes it clear that local authorities and Local Enterprise Partnerships must develop economic development strategies to make the most out of HS2 and they must be supported in doing this by central Government.

The committee had also previously called for a full assessment of the case for building HS2 north to south. Since then Sir David Higgins has told the MPs that when he takes up his post as the Chairman of HS2 Ltd he will look at the case for building north to south concurrently with building south to north. The Tansport Committee believe that the economic, transport and political case for this has strengthened since its last report.

HS2 Ltd website

Images: HS2

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