Good piece in the New Statesman by former Labour transport minister Andrew Adonis on why it would be an act of national self-mutilation to cancel HS2.
For the key justification is not speed but capacity. There will be an acute shortage of transport capacity from the 2020s to convey freight, commuters and other passengers into and between the major conurbations of London, the West Midlands, the East Midlands and South and West Yorkshire. Since there is no viable plan, let alone political will, to build new motorways between these places, or to dramatically increase air traffic between them, this additional capacity must largely be met by rail or Britain will grind to a halt. Rail is, in any case, the most efficient and green mode of transport for mass passenger and freight movements.
He goes on to explain how cancelling HS2 would be as short sighted as the 1970s cancellation of the Channel Tunnel (eventually revived two decades later) and the third London airport at Maplin Sands. The one “big project” that the 1970s Labour government didn’t cancel was the one that did turn into a massive white elephant: Concorde. Britain should not make the same mistake again.
Debates about the benefits of faster journey times to Birmingham, and whether or not business travellers work productively on trains, are beside the point. If the additional capacity is required, it ought to be provided in the most cost-effective manner.
This is something I’ve not seen a single opponent of HS2 address. Yes, there are still points up for debate over the route, such as why it doesn’t join up with HS1.
And like Adonis, I would dismiss that recent anti-HS2 report from the Institute of Economic Affairs. The IEA is a right-wing think tank that has long been anti-rail and pro-road; for them, the private car symbolises personal freedom and individual prosperity, while any form of public transport represents socialistic collectivism. Don’t forget they’re connected with the late Alfred Sherman, the ideological moonbat who wanted to pave over the entire railway network to convert them into roads. They are simply not to be trusted on this issue.