"Alternatives to HS2 do not solve the capacity problems on Britain's railways" says Parliamentary Inquiry

Release: Embargoed (00.01 Wednesday 23rd May, 2012)
 “Alternatives to HS2 do not solve the capacity problems on Britain’s railways” says Parliamentary Inquiry
MPs looking into Britain’s rail capacity say that only High Speed Two (HS2) can create the long-term capacity that Britain’s rail network needs.

The MPs, from all three of the main political parties, found that alternatives to HS2, such as incremental upgrades to the existing network, will not solve the capacity problem.

The findings form the conclusions of a report, released today, that is the culmination of a four month inquiry by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for High Speed Rail. The inquiry saw submissions from sixty leading stakeholders both within and outside of the rail industry. There were also two inquiry sessions where a panel of MPs took evidence from eleven witnesses.

They key conclusions of the report are:
  • The rail network is close to being full. At the current time, we are hitting passenger projections that were predicted in a decades’ time.
  • Growth has continued despite the recession. The railways are seeing substantial growth at over 5% even in the midst of a recession.
  • Alternatives to HS2 will not meet demand. These alternatives, known as Rail Package 2 or 51m’s “Optimised Alternative”, are unable to meet peak demand, and would do little to help local services or freight.
  • Risk of under-providing is greater than over-providing. The risks to under-providing capacity are severe, and are far more serious than the risks of overprovision.

Commenting on the report Graham Stringer, Co-Chair of the APPG and MP for Blackley and Broughton, said:

“The findings of our inquiry completely blow the arguments of the opponents of HS2 out of the water. Claims that we can create sufficient capacity on the railways by implementing piecemeal upgrades of the existing lines have been proved wrong. 

“All of the available evidence makes clear that the very running of our railways is under threat as we fast approach total saturation on some of the major trunk lines. We are already seeing passenger numbers that were projected for a decades’ time. 

“As a result, the APPG has concluded that HS2 remains the only proper and practicable solution to creating sufficient long-term capacity for Britain’s railways. We couldn’t build it soon enough.” 

Stuart Andrew, Co-Chair of the APPG and MP for Pudsey, said:

“In the last few weeks there have been increased moves to muddy the waters around HS2. These are crude attempts to detract from the real benefits that HS2 will bring. The findings of our inquiry serve to reiterate that a major injection of capacity, so desperately needed on Britain’s railways, is the driving force behind building the project.  

“Politicians from all parties, including my own, must rally behind HS2 or face the deterioration of the railway network that built modern Britain, further alienating the prosperous South East from the rest of the country in the process.”
Notes to Editors:-
A copy of the document, ‘Report of the Inquiry into Britain’s Rail Capacity’ can be found here.
The terms of reference can be downloaded here.
The list of written evidence can be found here.
The transcripts of the oral evidence sessions can be found here.
For more information on the APPG for High-Speed Rail visit the website atwww.appghsr.co.uk. 
The Inquiry Panel:-
The inquiry panel for the evidence session was made up of:
Stuart Andrew MP
Graham Evans MP
Karen Lumley MP
Graham Stringer MP
Iain Stewart MP
For further comment or information please contact Emily Hamilton on 07828 501877, 020 3397 0146 or emily.hamilton@westbournecoms.com.

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