HS2 to go ahead - Banbury MP 'disappointed'

Banbury's MP, Victoria Prentis has expressed her disappointment that HS2 is to go ahead.

Tuesday, 11th February 2020, 1:39 pm
Updated Tuesday, 11th February 2020, 1:44 pm
Banbury MP Victoria Prentis 'disappointed'
Banbury MP Victoria Prentis 'disappointed'

Mrs Prentis described it as a 'sad day' but now the high speed rail project has been confirmed, she wants to work to make it a success.

She said: "Today is a sad day for me and my constituents, and for friends from all over the nation who have been involved in the fight to stop HS2 over the last 11 years.

"Obviously, I remain concerned by the environmental impact of HS2, and by the financial and governance issues of this project which have become increasingly worrying.

Protesters on the HS2 route

"This is a sad day but it also a day to accept that we must come together, as with the other great national project on which there is division, in a spirit of optimism for the future. This project is to go ahead, and it must be a success.

"To that end, it is important that we re-work the plan as necessary. We need to make sure above all that the Northern powerhouse rail links, which are so desperately needed, are built in the very near future. We need to ensure that tight financial controls, along with minimising disruption and environmental impact are uppermost in the thinking of those who run the project," said Mrs Prentis.

"I am sad, but I am also prepared to row in behind a new and improved HS2. I really do hope we are able to make it work for the nation as a whole."

The first phase of the plans will travel between London and Birmingham cutting through many locations along the way including Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Northamptonshire and Warwickshire.

The HS2 route through Culworth

It was announced in the House of Commons by Boris Johnson today (Tuesday) when he also revealed that a full time minister would be appointed to oversee the project.

The Prime Minister said: "There is no doubt of the clinching case for HS2. I can not say HS2 limited has distinguished itself in the handling of local communities. The cost forecasts have exploded, but poor management to date has not detracted from the fundamental value of the project."

The first phase of the high-speed rail link was due to open at the end of 2026 but it is now believed that the first trains may not run on the route until some time between 2028 and 2031.

The cost of the project was originally estimated at £56 billion but independent reports believe that the costs could more than £100 billion.

The HS2 route past Appletree

Critics of the scheme say it will have a devastating impact on the environment and there will be no benefit to the places where the route is being built.

Darren Caplan, Chief Executive of the Railway Industry Association, said: “The Railway Industry Association and our members support the Government’s decision today to get HS2 done, a decision that could unlock a new ‘golden age of rail’.

“HS2 will not just boost the UK’s economy and connectivity but will also enable other major rail infrastructure projects to be delivered. It will also unlock economic growth throughout the UK, not only by directly connecting eight out of ten of the UK’s largest cities, but also by increasing capacity at 73 stations serving towns and communities across the country, 54 of which aren’t even on the route."

Transport Salaried Staffs' Association General Secretary, Manuel Cortes, welcomed the announcement which has come after weeks of speculation about the findings of a report by Douglas Oakervee looking into the project.

Mr Cortes said: “Our union welcomes this announcement and we have said from day one that HS2 is vital not only to build much needed capacity on our railways but as a clean and green means of connecting and turbo charging economies across the Midlands and the North.

“Nearly half of Britain’s population will be linked by HS2 services around Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds and London but I say directly now to (Boris) Johnson – grasp the nettle – and commit to taking HS2 all the way to Scotland.

“Frankly there should have been no Oakervee and no bending the knee to short-sighted Tory backbenchers focussed only on their own backyard.

“This is about creating a high-speed rail network which will see an historic shift of freight and passenger travel from roads to rail – hopefully all the way to Glasgow and Edinburgh – which will see passengers transfer from domestic flights and in so doing cut our carbon emissions and fight climate change.

“The benefits of HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail will be felt by many for decades to come. Germany, Spain, France, Japan and host of other countries are miles ahead of us when it comes to high speed rail.

“However, without public ownership the fares will be so extortionate that people won't be able to ride the trains so our whole rail network must be brought under public control.

“What we have heard today must be an end to the debate and delay – there is not a moment to lose – we must get on with getting HS2 done.”