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TSSA Calls For Government Assurances On 'Vital' HS2 

29 January 2020

TSSA General Secretary, Manuel Cortes has written to the Transport Secretary after the boss of Network Rail raised the alarm about what Cortes calls the 'shocking cost' and delays of not pressing ahead with High Speed 2 (HS2).

Cortes wrote to Grant Shapps after the Daily Mail published details of a letter sent to the Secretary of State on the 14th of this month by Andrew Haines, the Chief Executive of Network Rail (NR).

Haines warns that scrapping HS2 and simply upgrading the existing rail network would at best deliver only two thirds of the capacity provided by HS2 and lead to 30 years of delays and disruption.

He says that given the West Coast, East Coast and Midland mainlines are effectively full, upgrading them without HS2 would not deliver the same extra seating or improved journey times offered by high speed rail.

Haines also made clear that plans to upgrade the North's rail network would be £15 billion more expensive without HS2

Cortes calls these ‘damning revelations’ and asks Shapps to make clear what the government is doing to ensure the ‘vital HS2 infrastructure project goes ahead’.

The full text of Manuel Cortes’ letter to Grant Shapps is as follows -

Dear Grant

I’m writing to you following the publication today by the Daily Mail of details from a letter to you from Andrew Haines, Network Rail's Chief Executive.

In this letter - apparently sent to you on 14th January - he outlines the shocking cost - in financial, time and service terms - of not continuing with HS2.

He warns that scrapping HS2 and switching to upgrade and improvement projects - as some have lobbied for vocally in recent weeks - would take up to 30 years and would deliver at best only two thirds of the additional capacity that HS2 will.

This is a significant fact which has thus far been largely missing from the debate. Why would the government scrap a significant project on the basis of replacing it with something that would take longer and deliver far less?

It must also be appreciated - as outlined by Mr Haines - that upgrading existing lines can only be carried out with widespread closures while works are undertaken.

In practical terms, such closures would mean massive disruption to services and the inability for tens of thousands of people to travel by rail for significant periods. This lays bare one of the fundamental truths that our railway network is woefully unfit to meet the growing demands of the travelling public and tinkering with the existing infrastructure simply won’t solve the problem.

Given these clear and damning revelations, what is your department doing to ensure the vital HS2 infrastructure project goes ahead?

TSSA supports HS2 because it will tackle the capacity issues which are crippling our rail network. It has already created thousands of skilled jobs and will provide more for decades to come.

It will take polluting freight and passenger transport off the road network and it will help rebalance our regional economies. Our main criticism is that it does not go far enough and must be built through to Scotland and properly linked into regional routes to reap its full potential.

I look forward to your reply

Manuel Cortes

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