North Warwickshire’s Member of Parliament Craig Tracey, a consistent opponent of HS2 due to its devastating impact of North Warwickshire and its lack of business case, has been working closely with the Taxpayer’s Alliance after launching the ‘Great British Transport Competition’. This called for alternative proposals to the HS2 investment to consider how this money could be spent more effectively and has led to dozens of entries proposing measures such as road network upgrades, electrification of existing railways, improved bus services and a larger cycling and walking network. The winners of the competition will be announced shortly.
Craig has also tabled written Parliamentary Questions to the Department for Transport regarding the total cost of the HS2 project. Craig asked:
“What recent estimate he [Transport Secretary] has made of the cost of High Speed Two; and what recent assessment he has made of the value for money of that project.”
Nusrat Ghani, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport) responded:
“The Spending Review 2015 confirmed a funding envelope for the whole of HS2 of £55.7bn at 2015 prices. DfT remains determined that the project will be delivered within the £55.7bn funding envelope.
The benefit-cost ratio for the HS2 network as a whole, including wider economic impacts, suggests that for every £1 invested the UK will receive £2.30 of benefits.”
Our local MP went further, calling for the funds allocated to HS2 to be reinvested elsewhere or even not spent at all:
“If he [Transport Secretary] will make an assessment of the potential merits of using the budget allocated to High Speed Two to instead invest in (a) regional transport infrastructure projects, (b) upgrading existing rail lines and (c) reducing government expenditure.
Again Minister Ghani responded:
“Record investment is taking place in Control Period 6 with around £48 billion to be spent on the existing rail network over a five-year period from 2019 to 2024, including more maintenance and a huge uplift in renewals to increase reliability and punctuality for passengers. Together with new and refurbished trains, this Government is delivering an ambitious programme on rail.
“In addition, HS2 will deliver more than £2 of benefits for every £1 of investment. HS2 will release capacity on existing railway lines so enabling new or additional services to be provided on those lines.”
This comes following a number of reports on the finances of HS2 and claims that most of the ‘benefits’ of the scheme would be felt in London. Furthermore, there has been speculation that rising costs has put pressure on the scheme.
North Warwickshire land owners have told Craig that HS2 were using a temporary procedure called a ‘schedule 16’ to take possession of land which would not be returned to them without compensation or payment.
More positively however, Craig has welcomed the recent announcement made by Colette Carroll, HS2 Director of Land and Property, that would see an alternative to ‘schedule 16’. HS2 will now be looking at early acquisition of land needed for the building of the railway.
Craig has been lobbying HS2 and the Department for Transport to see an end to ‘schedule 16’. This will enable land owners to find alternative replacement land lost to build the railway.
The local MP also works closely with HS2 action groups in our community and will continue to support North Warwickshire residents who have been blighted by the proposals with mitigation.