Dear Editor, Your correspondent John Ford from Buckinghamshire (Birmingham Post April 7) made an important point as to why those of us who would be directly affected by the route of HS2, reluctantly become unofficial investigators into the viability of the project.
If your home or business is nowhere near the proposed rail corridor then the HS2 project is just another Government scheme – but if your life and livelihood is already put into question by the plans, then such a threat does wonders for your personal interest!
The HS2 proposals are promoted to Birmingham citizens as a vital regeneration initiative. Without it, the reasoning goes, Birmingham will fail to grow. If only regeneration was so simple! Surely no one imagines shaving 20 minutes or so off the journey time to London is the pivotal issue as to whether our great regional city flourishes or flounders.
Birmingham has successfully reinvented itself over the last 20 years – with precious little of that being attributable to the already improved rail service to London. Is the Government really suggesting that the spending of £17billion (of borrowed money) on an apparently quicker new rail route to Birmingham is the best way of assisting the further regeneration of the city and the West Midlands area? If it is then try asking the voters of West Birmingham, Walsall, Wolverhampton, the Black Country, Bromsgrove, Redditch and Coventry – in fact everyone who lives or works more than 10 miles from the Coleshill station site.
I think the people of Birmingham should wake up. The HS2 proposal is not a high speed shuttle between our city and the capital. Look at the map.
The Birmingham link is only a spur of the London to Manchester route. The interim station is the proposed new station at Coleshill. That is where HS2 trains will stop, to enable travellers to change trains for Birmingham, Leeds or Manchester. Yes, I guess there will be a limited number of dedicated one-stop London bound HS2 trains from Curzon Street – but make no mistake the proposed route is not a dedicated London to Birmingham corridor.
High speed trains only function effectively where distances of 180 miles or more can be undertaken – so Brummies need to thoroughly understand that HS2 is not being built for them. And let us all remember that if we have to travel for more than 20 minutes by local transport or motor car to get to Curzon Street or Coleshill station then the premium fare and speedy route carries no value whatsoever. High speed trains only work when they don’t stop.
If there are central funds to be made available for the development of Birmingham and the West Midlands then let’s improve local transport first so that we can actually access our fantastic new hospitals and our schools. Let’s have proper traffic management on all of our local motorways, let’s press ahead with enterprise zone type encouragement to business. Let’s ask all the local authorities and business leaders what they would do with £17billion – and then stand back and be amazed.