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  • "
    It seems like you didn't read the article to begin with, or the follow up below the line from Councillor Burston - for a start, the admittedly large cost of HS2 will be spread over a long time frame (too long in my opinion but that's a separate issue) - only a tiny proportion of overall costs are being incurred now - the serious funding doesn't start until CrossRail construction is finished and the crews involved there can seamlessly transfer their skills to HS2 - I don't see too many campaign groups jumping up and down about the serious funding stream (approx £2bn per annum) being consumed by CrossRail, RIGHT NOW, during this period of public spending cutbacks? I also not that you have signally failed to address any of the valid points raised concerning a credible alternative to HS2 - significant NEW new capacity can only result from the construction of NEW trackway - Councillor Burston has highlighted the serious disruption and (in probability) larger degree of demolition required to four track the existing WCML yet you fail to come up with any credible alternative? There are no easy choices here - and doing nothing isn't an option! The principles underpinning HS2 remain sound - what we should do is focus public scrutiny on the relatively large discrepancies in comparative costs between HS2 and other technically similar project elsewhere in Europe - why for example does 302km of new double trackway for the LGV SEA, currently under construction between Tours and Bordeaux come in at £7bn all in, yet 192km of double trackway for phase I of HS2 is budgeted at close to £20bn - there's something definitely wrong there and that's where the real debate should be centred - not on endless navel gazing about the efficacy of HS2 as a long term transport strategy!"
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James Morris MP column: Why HS2 is so important for our economy

Halesowen News: James Morris MP James Morris MP

IN this month's column Halesowen and Rowley Regis MP James Morris outlines his support for the controversial HS2 rail link.

Now that the economy is starting to grow strongly, we need to make sure that the whole country benefits, instead of depending too much on London and the South-East for growth and prosperity.

Gross value added in Dudley and Sandwell – the best measure of local economic growth – fell from an already poor 88% of the national average in 1997 to a shocking 74% when the recession began in 2008.

To attract the jobs and investment that our community needs, we have to make it as easy to do business here as it is in London or any of the world’s other major economic centres.

Last week the Government has published the High Speed Rail Bill, to build HS2 – the first new main line north of London since Queen Victoria was on the throne.

A lot of the focus has been on journey times between Birmingham and London.

Knocking 50 minutes off journeys from Rowley Regis to London will help, but the biggest benefit will be increased rail capacity and the extra local services that it will allow in the West Midlands.

Over the last decade rail use has gone up by 50%, and journeys around Birmingham and Coventry are growing more quickly.

Current rail links will be over capacity by the time that HS2 opens, and that will mean important regional services being reduced to allow for more capacity on peak inter-city routes.

We need a new line and so the question becomes whether we should build another rail line to nineteenth century standards or one that is fit for the twenty-first century.

HS2 provides more capacity – up to 1,100 extra each hour – at less cost per passenger than the alternatives put forward and allows local services to be improved in the Black Country.

Centro have already published a “West Midlands Connectivity Package” of local improvements that would spread the benefits of HS2 across the region, including increased capacity and connectivity from Cradley Heath, Old Hill and Rowley Regis stations to Moor Street and Stourbridge.

Anybody who travels to Snow Hill in rush hour knows how desperately we need this.

New routes from Sandwell & Dudley would operate every hour, services to Coventry, Shrewsbury and Telford would double, and connections to Birmingham International would go up from one an hour to one every ten minutes – greatly improving links to the airport.

HS2 is about investing over the next 20 years to create modern rail infrastructure for the next 100 years. Most of those costs fall towards the end of the project.

HS2, together with Centro’s package, is projected to create 12,500 additional jobs in the Black Country alone, boosting the Black Country’s economy by £900m each year.

If we are serious about bringing about regional growth then we can’t afford not to build it.

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