The 2M Group of local authorities is calling for an independent cost-benefit review of the high speed rail schemes put forward by Network Rail and the Department for Transport.
The Network Rail plan, published last week, and the HS2 scheme would cost around £30bn each to build.
HS2 would create a direct high speed rail link to Heathrow from Birmingham, while the Network Rail scheme would follow the West Coast Main Line with no connection to Heathrow. Neither scheme would serve Leicester, Nottingham or Sheffield. Network Rails also excludes Leeds and Newcastle
2M wants the two projects to be tested alongside its own scheme High Speed North – which would follow the M1 to the East Midlands and the North. It would include connections to Heathrow, Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool from its north-south spine. Like the Network Rail and HS2 proposals High Speed North would also cost around £30bn.
2M has published a series of ten environmental and value for money tests which it say could be applied to any high speed rail project.
Wandsworth Council leader Edward Lister, speaking on behalf of 2M, said: The value for money tests are critical. If we want to maximise the economic impact on the UK regions then we need an inclusive route that benefits as many cities as possible on both the east and west side of the country.”
We also need to start with the clear aim of building a route that serves England and Scotland. The current enthusiasm for a Heathrow-Birmingham link is short-termist. There may never be the demand to make this route pay at which point the case for a national network could be set back a generation.”
2Ms rail adviser Colin Elliff has published his own detailed appraisal of the different high speed options. You can view Heathrow and High Speed Rail at www.2MGroup.org.uk