MPs back HS2

A committee of MPs has backed HS2, saying it will boost the economy, but criticised the presentation of the proposals.

The House of Commons Transport Select Committee report says there is a “good case” for the proposed high-speed rail link between London and Birmingham and beyond, but that the government must commit now to extending the route beyond Birmingham to Leeds and Manchester to make it work.

They also said that the £32bn investment required should not be at the expense of other rail investment, as this would be counterproductive.

While backing the economic potential of the proposed line, and its potential to “help bridge the north-south divide”, the report criticises some of the claims made about it, in particular claims by ministers that HS2 would reduce carbon dioxide emissions, which, is says, “do not stand up to scrutiny”.

Cllr Ray Puddifoot, Leader of Hillingdon Council, said: “I expected the Transport Select Committee to agree with the concept of High Speed rail in principle but I am delighted that they also agreed with the vast majority of the concerns expressed by local authorities, residents and other groups.

“The report is littered with the words “disappointing”, “concerned”, “doubts” and unacceptable”.

“This report together with the consultation process will be the first “dodgy dossier” that the coalition has had to deal with and as the report states, “it is unacceptable for debate on such major decisions to be conducted through a series of nods and winks in the press”.

“The Secretary of State now has to decide to look again at this issue or face a Judicial Review in the High Court which will highlight the incompetency in how this matter has been dealt with and almost certainly order another fuller and wider consultation process.”

The report also suggests that any new high speed line might not need to go in to central London, but could terminate at Old Oak Common, with passengers transferring to central London via Crossrail or the tube.

The report says this would “avoid the significant capital costs” of building the line between Old Oak Common and Euston as well as the tube capacity improvements that would be required at Euston, noting that most travellers going to Euston for business purposes would have onward journeys to make to either the City or the West End. “If that is so”, says the report, “then the Government should reassess whether terminating at either Old Oak Common or another station on the Crossrail network might not be a more effective solution given concerns about the capacity of Euston.”

LB Hammersmith & Fulham has proposed an interchange with Crossrail at Old Oak Common, which would also have a tube and London Overground link.

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