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.

Comments (11)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

12:52pm Wed 4 Dec 13

deanperks@live.com says...

I'm all for improved infrastructure but let's be honest the travel time between Rowley and London will increase because of the fact it will be a 15 min walk from new street to the hs2 link then transferring onto hs2 itself at the terminal.

Am I also wrong in believing that if we can't afford to maintain front line services such as care homes under local authority care and assured futures for children's centres we can't afford hs2?

Time for a bit of common sense or stop wasting money and lying to the electorate
I'm all for improved infrastructure but let's be honest the travel time between Rowley and London will increase because of the fact it will be a 15 min walk from new street to the hs2 link then transferring onto hs2 itself at the terminal. Am I also wrong in believing that if we can't afford to maintain front line services such as care homes under local authority care and assured futures for children's centres we can't afford hs2? Time for a bit of common sense or stop wasting money and lying to the electorate deanperks@live.com

1:45pm Thu 5 Dec 13

ukip-halesowen says...

The HS2 is just to make London an easier accessible place from over the country so people can get there quicker also those wishing to go there can fly in to the country and jump on to the HS2. Great for London but will not do much at all for the rest of the country/ The train service we have with Virgin is quick enough to get to and from London etc just update the tracks and service we have and stop the big waste of money on HS2.
https://www.facebook
.com/Stuart.UKIP.Hen
ley?ref=hl
https://www.facebook
.com/ukip.halesowen
The HS2 is just to make London an easier accessible place from over the country so people can get there quicker also those wishing to go there can fly in to the country and jump on to the HS2. Great for London but will not do much at all for the rest of the country/ The train service we have with Virgin is quick enough to get to and from London etc just update the tracks and service we have and stop the big waste of money on HS2. https://www.facebook .com/Stuart.UKIP.Hen ley?ref=hl https://www.facebook .com/ukip.halesowen ukip-halesowen

5:40pm Thu 5 Dec 13

Cllr Ray Burston says...

First off, Dean, the HS2 terminus in Birmingham will be located next door to Moor Street Station, so a change of trains from the Stourbridge line will involve nothing like the brisk fifteen minute walk quoted.

Secondly, the only way to achieve anything approaching the capacity improvements that HS2 will deliver would be to upgrade the existing London Euston-Birmingham line to four-track. However, this would not only involve demolishing whole swathes of Coventry and east Birmingham, but would cause massive disruption to the line for years on end (the electrification of this line in the 1960s effectively took it out of commission for three years).

And whilst the London Marylebone-Birmingha
m line is four-track in and out of Birmingham and London, it is not along the rest of the route, meaning that the diggers would still be required to similarly rip up swathes of Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire.

Finally, because fast trains require greater signalling distances, HS2, by removing many of them from the Euston-Birmingham line, will create exponential capacity improvements that will enable far more freight and local commuter services to be run - something that it is currently impossible to do when they have to share the line with fast trains. Ever wondered why the level crossings were removed at Tipton and Tile Hill stations at such great expense? The answer is that the barriers were often down for over fifty minutes out of every hour - that's how busy this main line now is.

Yes, HS2 is expensive, and tears through some rather nice countryside. However, that cost will be spread over twenty years - and a twin-track railway occupies far less space than a six-lane motorway.

Which reminds me: who amongst HS2's critics in UKIP now wishes the M40 motorway had never been built and that the money had been saved for something else?
First off, Dean, the HS2 terminus in Birmingham will be located next door to Moor Street Station, so a change of trains from the Stourbridge line will involve nothing like the brisk fifteen minute walk quoted. Secondly, the only way to achieve anything approaching the capacity improvements that HS2 will deliver would be to upgrade the existing London Euston-Birmingham line to four-track. However, this would not only involve demolishing whole swathes of Coventry and east Birmingham, but would cause massive disruption to the line for years on end (the electrification of this line in the 1960s effectively took it out of commission for three years). And whilst the London Marylebone-Birmingha m line is four-track in and out of Birmingham and London, it is not along the rest of the route, meaning that the diggers would still be required to similarly rip up swathes of Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire. Finally, because fast trains require greater signalling distances, HS2, by removing many of them from the Euston-Birmingham line, will create exponential capacity improvements that will enable far more freight and local commuter services to be run - something that it is currently impossible to do when they have to share the line with fast trains. Ever wondered why the level crossings were removed at Tipton and Tile Hill stations at such great expense? The answer is that the barriers were often down for over fifty minutes out of every hour - that's how busy this main line now is. Yes, HS2 is expensive, and tears through some rather nice countryside. However, that cost will be spread over twenty years - and a twin-track railway occupies far less space than a six-lane motorway. Which reminds me: who amongst HS2's critics in UKIP now wishes the M40 motorway had never been built and that the money had been saved for something else? Cllr Ray Burston

5:52pm Thu 5 Dec 13

deanperks@live.com says...

Ray please read my post again. I'm all for improved infrastructure!
The estimated 15min connection is in the recent independent study so not fictitious. The travel time for us in Dudley overall will not be shorter. Fact!

It's cost unbelievable amounts to date and if we keep being told we must cut cut cut then dare I say common sense tells us we can't afford it at the moment!
I never complained about the M40 so that argument is not valid. Anyone can drag historical arguments up and between labour and Tories its pretty easy to act childish and do so let's face it
Ray please read my post again. I'm all for improved infrastructure! The estimated 15min connection is in the recent independent study so not fictitious. The travel time for us in Dudley overall will not be shorter. Fact! It's cost unbelievable amounts to date and if we keep being told we must cut cut cut then dare I say common sense tells us we can't afford it at the moment! I never complained about the M40 so that argument is not valid. Anyone can drag historical arguments up and between labour and Tories its pretty easy to act childish and do so let's face it deanperks@live.com

7:29pm Thu 5 Dec 13

dudley old boy says...

The average Joe Blogs's taxes will pay for this, but the only ones who will be able to afford to ride on it are the wealthy, or those that can claim it on their expenses.
The average Joe Blogs's taxes will pay for this, but the only ones who will be able to afford to ride on it are the wealthy, or those that can claim it on their expenses. dudley old boy

8:46pm Thu 5 Dec 13

Sam Vimes says...

I wonder what the point of all this "extra capacity" will be when the main issues, for the Cradley - Snow Hill line for example, are services paralysed by heat, cold, rain, leaves, snow, wind, and perpetual staff shortages.
I wonder what the point of all this "extra capacity" will be when the main issues, for the Cradley - Snow Hill line for example, are services paralysed by heat, cold, rain, leaves, snow, wind, and perpetual staff shortages. Sam Vimes

6:35pm Fri 6 Dec 13

padav says...

@deanperks@live.com
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!
@deanperks@live.com 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! padav

7:58pm Fri 6 Dec 13

deanperks@live.com says...

Padav you should also read!
I'm not against infrastructure!! Just incase you or anyone else didnt get that IM NOT AGAINST INFRASTRUCTURE!!!!
The cost is approx £52billion but realistically £70billion and I don't care how long its over! It will cost from day 1! It's already cost £millons!
If I can't pay my electric bill I don't go out and buy a new car on finance!
It's very simple basic house keeping!
Until we can afford it we shouldn't even talk about it!
If you want to get into it however I'm France and Spain high speed rail has had an adverse effect on the city's linked to the capitals!

With respect
Dean Perks
Padav you should also read! I'm not against infrastructure!! Just incase you or anyone else didnt get that IM NOT AGAINST INFRASTRUCTURE!!!! The cost is approx £52billion but realistically £70billion and I don't care how long its over! It will cost from day 1! It's already cost £millons! If I can't pay my electric bill I don't go out and buy a new car on finance! It's very simple basic house keeping! Until we can afford it we shouldn't even talk about it! If you want to get into it however I'm France and Spain high speed rail has had an adverse effect on the city's linked to the capitals! With respect Dean Perks deanperks@live.com

11:11pm Fri 6 Dec 13

padav says...

deanperks@live.com
I HAVE read your comment - more than once - so you aren't hostile to new infrastructure per se, just HS2 - why? You complain about the cost certainly but your estimate is wildly inaccurate - don't suppose you got those figures from an anti-HS2 campaign site by any chance. The official budget for HS2, both phases, is approx £28bn (£14bn has been added in the form of a Treasury mandated contingency - HS1 also had a contingency in its budget - it wasn't used). So according to your logic, we shouldn't be investing in CrossRail (£16bn for a much smaller project, ie. much greater cost per km) and we shouldn't be aiming to invest approx. £37bn in the existing classic line network during the next 5 year Network Rail control period either? Your logic is flawed and selective, betraying a hidden bias against HS2; I ask again - why - is there something you're hiding - proximity to the planned pathway of HS2 by any chance?
deanperks@live.com I HAVE read your comment - more than once - so you aren't hostile to new infrastructure per se, just HS2 - why? You complain about the cost certainly but your estimate is wildly inaccurate - don't suppose you got those figures from an anti-HS2 campaign site by any chance. The official budget for HS2, both phases, is approx £28bn (£14bn has been added in the form of a Treasury mandated contingency - HS1 also had a contingency in its budget - it wasn't used). So according to your logic, we shouldn't be investing in CrossRail (£16bn for a much smaller project, ie. much greater cost per km) and we shouldn't be aiming to invest approx. £37bn in the existing classic line network during the next 5 year Network Rail control period either? Your logic is flawed and selective, betraying a hidden bias against HS2; I ask again - why - is there something you're hiding - proximity to the planned pathway of HS2 by any chance? padav

11:25pm Fri 6 Dec 13

deanperks@live.com says...

At what point have I said I'm against HS2?
I'm against spending while we cut.
You see no hidden agenda! As for the cost I suggest you save this and we can discuss again in the future.
No hidden bias so no need to spin.
At what point have I said I'm against HS2? I'm against spending while we cut. You see no hidden agenda! As for the cost I suggest you save this and we can discuss again in the future. No hidden bias so no need to spin. deanperks@live.com

3:11pm Wed 11 Dec 13

satchman says...

Deanperks@live.com..
You're wasting your time talking to some people on here. I agree with you totally. if we are having to suffer major cuts throughout the land then this should really be re-thought untill the time comes that we can comfortably afford it..Well that's the thing Dean..They can afford it because they want it. Just like they can afford 11% wage increase for MP's..because they want it, even though they tell us they tell us they don't It's the same as the billions of pounds that's given away in aid al over the world, and to Nuclear powered countries as well.They say we are broke? LOL to that one. We are in it it together? LOL to that one as well. They are all in it together and we are paying for it!!

I wonder how many of them are share holders, or future share holders in HS2? I wonder how many of them will lose their land because of the HS2 route?There are plenty of hidden agendas Dean!
Deanperks@live.com.. You're wasting your time talking to some people on here. I agree with you totally. if we are having to suffer major cuts throughout the land then this should really be re-thought untill the time comes that we can comfortably afford it..Well that's the thing Dean..They can afford it because they want it. Just like they can afford 11% wage increase for MP's..because they want it, even though they tell us they tell us they don't It's the same as the billions of pounds that's given away in aid al over the world, and to Nuclear powered countries as well.They say we are broke? LOL to that one. We are in it it together? LOL to that one as well. They are all in it together and we are paying for it!! I wonder how many of them are share holders, or future share holders in HS2? I wonder how many of them will lose their land because of the HS2 route?There are plenty of hidden agendas Dean! satchman

Comments are closed on this article.

click2find

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree