Shropshire to London rail link needs HS2, says Philip Dunne MP
Shropshire's direct rail link to London – due to start running in December – will not be properly sustainable until the £50 billion HS2 high speed line from the capital and Birmingham opens, a county MP said today.
Philip Dunne said increasing pressure on the West Coast Main Line would only ease when the first stage of the HS2 line opens in around 2026.
But HS2 critics say it could damage Shropshire's economy by encouraging county commuters to move nearer Birmingham.
Iain Macauley, of the The HS2 Action Alliance, said: "Imagine the exodus of talented people to Birmingham, within walking distance of the fast track to London.
"Network Rail may well be 'in negotiation with Virgin' to run direct trains between Shrewsbury and London, but if the deal is done, then for how long? There's no way train operators are going to give up train paths from Manchester or Birmingham into Euston to accommodate direct services from Shrewsbury.
"If HS2 work did start, any direct Shrewsbury service would stop."
But Mr Dunne, MP for Ludlow, said: "Our efforts for a regular service have been held back due to a fundamental lack of capacity on the West Coast Main Line. Sufficient capacity to maintain a proper, sustainable service between London and Shrewsbury is only likely once HS2 has been built."
Shrewsbury MP Daniel Kawczynski also dismissed HS2 objectors' claims.
"HS2 will massively increase capacity again," he said.
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