Claims over the benefits of HS2 to the region slammed by campaigners - The Solihull Observer

Claims over the benefits of HS2 to the region slammed by campaigners

Solihull Editorial 4th Jun, 2019 Updated: 4th Jun, 2019   0

CAMPAIGNERS have countered claims made by Birmingham Airport and HS2 bosses about the overwhelming benefits of high speed rail.

Last week, bosses at both Birmingham Airport and HS2 Ltd met to reaffirm how the rail network is ‘crucial to the future of the region’.

Campaigners have suggested the publicity stunt shows regional partners are panicking after criticism over the scheme’s spiralling costs and environmental degradation – and the prospects for the scheme under an new Prime Minister.

Birmingham Airport is set to begin its masterplan works this month and bosses say HS2 will provide a vital connection to the airport from the rest of the country.

When HS2 opens, the rail journey between Birmingham Airport and central London will reduce from the current 70 minutes to 38 minutes, bosses claim, as it becomes the UK’s only high-speed connected airport.

Phase one of HS2, between the West Midlands and London is scheduled to be completed by 2026, bosses claim, with works already begun.

Chair of HS2 Ltd Allan Cook said: “Calling at the new Interchange station, our trains will be more reliable, quicker and allow more passengers to use Birmingham Airport, the NEC and other leisure attractions.

“The new HS2 station bring new homes and jobs.”

Chair of Birmingham Airport Tim Clarke said: “From next month, the airport will begin works on its masterplan, where £500million will be invested over the next 15 years to grow the airport by 40 per cent, serving 18million passengers a year – using the existing single runway.

“With a greater choice of flights and destinations, alongside improved regional connectivity and a direct link to HS2, we will act as a catalyst for the continued growth of the region’s economy.”

Solihull Green Party Councillor Max McLoughlin said: “We won’t see fare reductions. We won’t see the majority of the predicted economic benefits here, 80 per cent of those will go to London.

“What we will see is house prices increasing and a modest number of already filled jobs being relocated to the West Midlands.

“The cost to the region is already into the billions of pounds.

“Had that been invested more wisely we could have seen real prosperity developed in areas that most need it.

“Instead we’ll see a new executive fare class in over a created a decade from now, as we try to become a new London commuter town.”

Berkswell campaigner Richard Lloyd added: “The supporters are shaken to the roots by the dawning realisation of what HS2 actually is and means. The rationale for Birmingham Airport supporting HS2 isn’t entirely clear, as believe it or not, the trains will run in both directions, and could equally well carry Midlands travellers to Heathrow, Gatwick, and Manchester.”

He questioned the claims made by the airport and HS2 bosses, saying: “No-one knows what the little train will look like, how long it will take, or how long you’ll have to queue for.”

Joe Rukin, of Stop HS2 action group, said HS2 Ltd’s and others’ recent ‘propoganda’ showed they were nervous about not just costs and recent bad publicity, but the possibility of HS2 not being supported by the next Prime Minister.


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