Midland business leaders have labelled HS2 “the only long-term solution to Britain’s future transport needs” after a report outlining the case for high-speed rail was published.
Today’s report, The Strategic Case for HS2, sets out in detail the need for a new railway line to provide the vitally-needed extra capacity and warns that Britain cannot meet its future transport needs without the project.
Jerry Blackett, chief executive of Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, said HS2 will generate more than £2 for every £1 invested.
He said: “There is a significant chance that returns could be considerably higher than this and is almost the same as that for Cross-Rail. So a good investment.
“The alternative to HS2 of upgrading the existing line has already been estimated to cost £20 billion with associated delays to allow the work to take place amounting to the equivalent of 14 years of weekend route closures.
“And it is now estimated that by 2026 40 per cent of travellers on InterCity trains will standing on arrival in London. This is clearly unacceptable for Midlands industry.
“Passenger growth assumptions vary between 1.8 per cent and 2.2 per cent a year in the BCR (benefit to cost ratio) analysis. So these are very conservative when related to current growth of between five and six per cent annually.
“It is encouraging that the BCR analysis follows the formal DfT methodology so it should be regarded as extremely robust.
“Today’s report shows that the 14 years of weekend closures will deliver only a fraction of the additional capacity which proves that HS2 is the only long-term solution to Britain’s future transport needs.”
Research by KPMG last month showed that HS2 will deliver greater economic benefits to the West Midlands than other UK region, including London.
It added that the West Midlands regional economy would benefit from an annual boost of £1.5 billion to £3.1 billion, compared to growth of £2.5 billion to £2.8 billion in Greater London, £600 million to £1.3 billion in Greater Manchester and £1 billion in Leeds.
It also revealed that HS2 could boost the country’s economy by £15 billion a year and that the regions would be the biggest winners from the project.
The report concluded that HS2 would give the Birmingham city region economy a yearly boost equivalent to 2.1 to 4.2 per cent of the city region’s GDP. For Manchester city region the figure is 0.8 per cent to 1.7 per cent, for Leeds city region, 1.6 per cent and for London 0.5 per cent.