The CILT, or Chartered Institute for Transport and Logistics, have just have published a new report which argues that there really is a compelling case for the building of the new proposed high speed rail link between the north and the south as the report states it will play a vital role in supporting the growth of the economy. It does, however, also say that more work must be done in certain areas to make sure that all the benefits from this new line are fully maximised.
Called “The Case for HS2” , and developed by the Institute’s Strategic Rail Policy Group, the report argues that the new line should be built for four main reasons:
Capacity : more capacity is needed to supplement existing constrained mainline intercity routes, which could then also provide increased capacity for local passenger and freight services. Rail travel has doubled in the twenty years since privatisation and by 25% in the past five years alone through the economic recession. There are now more than 1.5 billion journeys a year, while rail freight tonnage is up by more than two-thirds. The existing network can’t cope.
Growth: if the new line is built, economic growth and the benefits that flow from it will be spread more equitably throughout the 21st century. It could result in up to 500,000 fewer lorry journeys every year, easing the transport of goods to and from ports and distribution centres. While the building of the line itself will create thousands of jobs, the report argues that better transport links between the large cities of the Midlands and the North and on to London will help them increase their economic and social well-being.
Cost certainty : the Report also argues that the capital costs of new infrastructure are well understood and much more predictable than trying to amend existing infrastructure, adding that several large recent projects like the HS1 rail line and the London Olympics were delivered on time and within budget. The costs of building the new line will be spread over many years, not all at once.
Lack of viable alternatives : Having considered them, the Institute believes none of the potential alternatives such as new roads, more domestic air services or increasing the capacity of existing rail lines will meet current (let alone future) predictions of demand in the way that HS2 can help meet the needs of a fast-growing UK population.
Launching the report, Steve Agg, Chief Executive of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport, said: “Against a febrile debate with claim and counter-claim about HS2, the Institute has taken a calm and considered view of its merits and weighed up the alternatives. On every measure, we judge the economic, social, demographic, commercial and environmental arguments for the line to be sound and secure. We have no doubt that it will deliver handsomely for the UK.”
The Report also argues that the new line will be greener than the alternatives and open up better and increased number of passenger services and faster routings for freight trains on the existing network.
However, the Report does make some recommendations to the developers of HS2 that need further work and development:
That investment in HS2 should not lead to the “crowding out” of investment in the existing rail network and other vital transport infrastructure.
The new line’s success will depend on its attractiveness to passengers, including their ability to access and egress the network seamlessly, so links to the existing network will be important, along with a good link to HS1.
More work should be done to demonstrate the integration of freight benefits and how they will be maximised.
More consideration should be given to the optimum speed of services to balance journey time, energy cost and carbon emission factors.