Posted 20th April 2011 | 8 Comments

Government forecasts of HS2 demand 'very cautious'

THE pro-HS2 campaigning group Greengauge21 is urging that the first phase of the new High Speed line should include a connection to the East Midlands.

The group is also contradicting HS2's critics by describing the government's forecasts of demand as 'very cautious'.

“This is about much more than just one new railway line,” said Greengauge21 director Jim Steer.

He continued: “This is the first stage in the development of a national high-speed rail network which will provide much-needed transport capacity and deliver transformational economic benefits. HS2 is affordable and represents good value for money. The wider national network should link all Britain’s major cities and bring a significant reduction in carbon from the transport sector.” 

In a 'Position Statement', Greengauge21 said it warmly welcomed the government’s proposals to develop the initial route from London to the West Midlands and supported the technical work that underpins the scheme. 

“The only issue that we have with the work carried out so far”, added Mr Steer, “is that in several ways it is too conservative. The demand forecasts and assessment of carbon benefits are very cautious and our own work suggests that the value for money of the proposals – while good – should in practice be even better.

“There is a substantial body of research on high-speed rail available on the Greengauge 21 website, which we hope the public, local authorities and businesses – including those in the corridor between London and the West Midlands –  will find informative, if they care to look.”

However, although many of the route's opposers maintain that the official forecasts are too vague and, if anything, on the optimistic side, new figures from the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce have revealed that more than two out of three businesses in the city are backing the High Speed plans.

A survey by the Chamber indicates that 72 per cent of  Birmingham and Solihull businesses believe that HS2 will open up inward investment, employment and economic prosperity opportunities for the future.

Birmingham Chamber is a member of the Go-HS2 alliance. Other members include Centro, Birmingham Airport, The NEC Group, Birmingham City Council and Business Birmingham, the city’s inward investment agency.

President of the Chamber, Christine Braddock, said: "Reduced travel times and increased capacity will create new market opportunities, attract inward investment and increase the region’s access to customers."

The survey also revealed that 75 per cent thought HS2 could have a similar impact here as it has in other countries such as France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Japan and China.

The distances between population centres in Britain are roughly comparable to that of other countries with HSR networks such as Germany, where the most successful high speed service is between Frankfurt and Cologne. The two cities are 177km (110 miles) apart – the same distance as between London and Birmingham.

Dr Braddock added: "Unemployment in our region is 9.7 per cent, so developing sustainable long-term jobs is paramount. We require skilled jobs that won’t disappear, which this region has failed on over the last decade.

"With London benefiting from Crossrail and Thameslink, the business community here in Birmingham is desperate to also benefit from investment in first-class transport links which would no doubt help re-balance the economy."

Reader Comments:

Views expressed in submitted comments are that of the author, and not necessarily shared by Railnews.

  • D, Bucks., UK

    Dont believe the Govt. hype of a benevolent project opposed by a local minority. If you are talking about vested interests you need to look at the likely beneficiaries - the Rail Industry, its lobby groups like Greengauge 21 and fat cat businessmen in London, Bham, Liverpool and Manchester. HS2 is being rushed through despite being so flawed one has to question the motive behind it particularly in light of the speed of technology improvements, future working practices and the dismal HS1. The whole point is that High Speed Rail as a concept may be beneficial but needs to be considered as part of a long term strategy with proper integration of future road, air and rail requirements. We need to get it right. It is totally unacceptable to proceed with a project that will cost the whole country so much, with minimal benefits for the majority of the population and needless destruction of the countryside.

  • H, Birmingham

    First of all some fundamental questions need answering.

    What is the purpose of the line ? Is it really to link the airports with spare capacity (eg Birmingham, Edinburgh and Glasgow) to stop the need to expand Heathrow or Stansted ?
    Answer
    All of them and more

    Is it likely to be a terrorist target and if so what security measures need to be put in place ?

    Answer
    All of us (except in NIMBYLand) are subject to terrorism by the NIMBYs

    What exactly is the cost particularly of the first section being built and the rest then abandoned and never built ?
    Had future trens in rail efficiencies been incorporated in HS2 plans HS2 should be profitable but it is mre likely all sections will be built and connexions to All uk cities via by linkage to improved classic rail system

    Could the money be put to better use on the Rail system including Light Rail systems ?
    Do not be silly sillly the existing rail system will die outside the metro areas without HS2. Already Centro are pushing for linking metro to HS2.

    If you sillies would get out of the way Hammond and Co would do for our rail syatem what evwen Adonis failed to do.

    HS2 makes the existing system more secure.

  • nick, herts

    once again an hs2 critic speaks and repeats the same incorrect mantra !

    the cost to birmingham is 17 billion, 33 billion is the entire y network to leeds and manchester.

    it is ludicrous to suggest that only a few businessmen will use the line and is not evidenced on any hsr line ! and of course the time savings isnt ten minutes it is 30 minutes !

    it is time that hs2 critics were brought to task about their insistence on the repetition of incorrect or misleading information such as the above.it does not help their case at all.

  • John Buckeridge, Woodford Halse

    A gigantic waste of money. Funding for Kenilworth station is refused, reconnecting the GCR is refused, the Portishead line is in limbo, the East/West rail link remains as far away as ever and major towns such as Blyth and Coalville have no station and no hope of one, yet this £35bn HS2 nonsense continues for the sake of a handful of businessmen who want to get to Birmingham 10 minutes faster.

  • nick, herts

    The purpose of the line is to link the major cities in england to overcome the congestion and lack of capacity, and as far as security is concerned you can't not do or build something because of that possibility otherwise you would never do anything!

    Even if only the london birmingham stretch were built it would still provide huge benefits such that it would be very unlikely that the rest of the line would be abandoned!

  • Muhammad Haque, London

    "With London benefiting from Crossrail and Thameslink, the business community here in Birmingham is desperate to also benefit from investment in first-class transport links which would no doubt help re-balance the economy."
    Fantastic indeed!
    Your statement leaves no doubt that Crossrail is up and running!
    So what “benefits” has Crossrail brought to what parts of London?
    Does “benefit” mean jobs?
    Does it mean environmental quality?
    Does it mean proven rise in income for people that would otherwise be lacking in income?
    Does benefit include Tower Hamlets?
    What measure or measures of “benefit” are you using if you are bothered about checking the statements and their veracity before publishing the hypes as scripted by BiG Business?
    As for the Birmingham Chamber of commerce, what about the people who number the BCC many times over who have expressed evidence and clear opposition to HS2 on all key criteria? Why not quote them in proportionate style and detail?

  • Tony Pearce, Reading, UK

    First of all some fundamental questions need answering.

    What is the purpose of the line ? Is it really to link the airports with spare capacity (eg Birmingham, Edinburgh and Glasgow) to stop the need to expand Heathrow or Stansted ?

    Is it likely to be a terrorist target and if so what security measures need to be put in place ?

    What exactly is the cost particularly of the first section being built and the rest then abandoned and never built ?

    Could the money be put to better use on the Rail system including Light Rail systems ?

  • H Harvey, Birmingham

    At last signs of the pro HS2 lobby coming to life and beginning to take the argument into the land of myths and legends that give a bad name to the honest followers of Nimby.
    The arguments should be taken into Nimby heartland to destroy the false propoganda dished out to a susceptible audience that does not research the issue.
    With no other information other than that supplied by failed car salesman that no one would ever buy a car from.
    The sort of rubbish trawled out by the Antis is displayed by their White Elephant' when everyone knows White Elephants are the most valuable of all.