HS2 opponents are told to get on board

HS1 passing under the Dartford Bridge approach and over the Dartford Tunnel exit
HS1 passing under the Dartford Bridge approach and over the Dartford Tunnel exit

South Northants Labour supporters were told HS2 is vital for Britain’s future prosperity during an annual dinner in Abthorpe last week.

This month Nottingham South MP Lilian Greenwood, the shadow parliamentary secretary for regional and local transport, told party supporters they must not let party politics get in the way of what is right for the entire country.

She said: “High Speed 2 is affordable and will deliver major benefits to passengers and businesses in Northamptonshire, as well as the wider Midlands and the North. It’s important that the project is implemented properly, but the Government’s position has caused great confusion and uncertainty. Businesses need confidence to invest along the route, and I am calling on the new Transport Secretary to legislate for the whole of HS2 – not just the line to Birmingham.”

Abthorpe resident John Riches was at the dinner and said: “My personal feeling is the benefit for people in south Northants will be that the West Coast Mainline will be freed up for more trains, making it easier for people commuting from Northampton and Milton Keynes into London. And presumably that puts up the value of our houses.”

Formerly from Kent, Mr Riches said he had friends who lived through the construction of High Speed One, connecting the Channel Tunnel to St Pancras.

He said: “I came from east Kent and HS1 went through there, and I have mates living alongside it who have no problem. It’s not like the constant noise of a motorway, and the line is not very wide at all.

“My guess is that it won’t be long before people, instead of shying away from it, will go and have a look.

“We go down there quite often and watch the trains and it’s lovely.”

Mr Riches said the other benefits are easier travel to Europe and he recently returned from Switzerland in seven hours using high speed rail.

Mark Barton from Mixbury said the opposition analysis of the cost to benefit ratio shows for every pound spent, the UK economy will get back £1.20.

Mr Barton added: “The Treasurer normally would not consider a ratio of one to three or four.

“There will be no economic benefit, except for the Japanese train builder.

“And it’s not just the economic case. We’re not actually against a new line between London and Birmingham, but why build one without any stops along the way.

“And why, at a time when we’re heading for an energy crisis would you consider building trains that will use twice as much electricity as the current trains.

“All some of the MPs you question about HS2 tend to know is that it is a nice shiny, fast, new train from London to Birmingham, which is quite terrifying.”