Comment: Does HS2 make sense?

Is there anyone out there who can put forward a compelling case for HS2?


Certainly, none of our political leaders seem to be able to manage it, although in their defence they have tried so very, very hard.

Go back a few years – when HS2 was expected to cost about £33 billion – and it was all about faster journey times, with Britain’s workforce supposed to be wowed with the idea of getting between London and Birmingham in the blink of an eye.

Only then it turned out that it’s not actually going to be that much quicker than your standard Pendolino.

Then there was that old chestnut about needing extra capacity on our railways, but that was before people’s work patterns changed so drastically during the pandemic.

Some were undoubtedly attracted to the promise of a seamless journey from the West Midlands to Paris, only that’s not happening now either, with anyone travelling to France forced to switch stations in London.

Meanwhile the projected budget rose to £55bn, then £80bn, and now £106bn.

It means the good folks trying to market this largely unwanted monstrosity have one peg left to hang their hats on, namely job creation.

It has been easy to lose count of the amount of jobs HS2 is apparently going to create. The nice, round figure of 100,000 is regularly mentioned.

Indeed, Boris Johnson said the first phase of the line will create 20,000 jobs, including 7,000 in this very region (although not too many of those will be in Staffordshire, according to Michael Fabricant MP).

We appear to be in a situation where the sole reason for building HS2 – and the mass destructions of our countryside that comes with it – is to prop up the jobs market in the construction industry. With the country on an economic cliff edge and facing a huge Covid-stamped debt pile, there is no justification left for its construction.

In recent months this Government has made a habit of making U-turns.

Scrapping HS2 would be one that plenty of people would applaud them for.

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