The Government has recently announced that the high-speed rail project, HS2, will be ‘paused’ over much of its length, with the exception of the core route between London and Birmingham. This decision is a step in the right direction and provides an opportunity to rethink the future of the project.
Over the past few months, I have been working tirelessly to convince the Government that the ‘wheels were coming off’ the second phase of HS2. Running from the West Midlands to Crewe, this additional stage of the project would have caused significant upheaval in the West Midlands – reducing existing rail capacity and destroying the tapestry of our local area at an eye-watering cost.
After meeting with industry experts and local stakeholders, I was introduced to a variety of alternative plans which myself and many Parliamentary colleagues have come to endorse. These proposals would expand the capacity of existing services and maintain the character of our local communities, whilst also saving the taxpayer over £29 billion.
Though the Government’s recent announcement is incredibly welcome, we must now use this time to take stock and reconsider the future of HS2. I have recently met with both the Treasury and Number 10 to discuss the adoption of alternate projects and continue to challenge the Department for Transport for clarity in the Commons. Rest assured; I will continue to make sure the voice of the West Midlands is heard.