“Think again on HS2”
That was the advice to Ministers in the House of Commons on Monday from Sandwell MP John Spellar. He added “I have had a large number of constituents contact me about the impact of HS2 on habitats , landscapes and communities . On top of this the case for HS2 , which in my opinion was always weak is now put further into doubt by the halving of rail journeys following covid. I called on the Minister to do a proper study to see if this is not a blip but a long term trend£
We are starting to move to the nub of the question. First, HS2 was greatly flawed in its initial assumptions about the costs and benefits. The costs have escalated, but, most importantly, covid has brought a dramatic change in demand. At the moment, only 50% or 60% of journeys are made by rail. On inter-city it is probably even less. Does that not fundamentally undermine the case, and is there a need for a reassessment by Ministers? Could we ask the Minister whether he has done that reassessment?