Letter to The Times: The not so cunning plan on HS2

Cutting back HS2 to run solely between Old Oak Common and Birmingham Curzon Street is not the cunning plan that Tory opponents of the scheme may think. What has been dubbed the Acton to Aston shuttle will still have cost more than £50 billion yet will provide none of the benefits of the longer scheme. It will not relieve the west coast main line as it will not serve destinations north of Birmingham, it will not attract any passengers off the airlines and it will do nothing to level up the deprived regions of the north. Old Oak Common is hard to access by car and the only local rail access, the Elizabeth Line, will be overwhelmed, especially at rush hour. There will be no time gain for people heading out of central London and, to cap it all, with most of the first 30 miles in tunnels, leisure travellers will definitely opt for the conventional railway. It will be Britain’s most expensive and reviled white elephant for generations to come.

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