ICE was responding to the consultation that closes this week on the proposed High Speed Two link between London and the West Midlands and the government’s wider strategy for high-speed rail.
Chair of ICE’s HSR working group, Steven Hayter, said: “The opportunity should be taken to invest in growth by providing a new railway that is fit for the 21st century – significantly increasing capacity, strengthening connectivity between Britain’s city-regions and linking up with the Trans-European rail network. The time to invest is now, and we endorse the Government’s strategy.
In addition to better connectivity between regions, the benefit of improved connectivity to the capital should also not be understated, he added. “Faster, more reliable connections to London could propel a city-region’s economic competitiveness and act as a catalyst for regeneration as city developers, planners and businesses alike take advantage of the opportunities – especially in the Midlands, the North and Scotland.
Hayter stressed that while the HS2 proposals open up significant economic opportunities and present good value for money, the business case must continue to be reviewed as the proposals develop. Additionally he urged government to ensure the UK-wide benefits are realised, by committing to the full ‘Y’ shaped route extending to Leeds and Manchester and by giving serious consideration to future extensions to other key UK cities.
ICE also called on the Government to ensure careful thought is given to the route’s connection points to the existing network and the costs involved in providing extra capacity at terminals.