High speed rail could boost the country’s economy by £15 billion a year, proving its benefits ‘beyond reasonable doubt’, new research claims today.
And it will provide space on the existing lines for 26 more services a day between Wolverhampton and London Euston, according to accountants KPMG.
The report, commissioned by HS2 Ltd, the quango in charge of the £42.6bn project, also claims the West Midlands will get an annual boost of 2.1 per cent to 4.2 per cent of its GDP – the market value of all its goods and services.
It comes as the focus of the government has shifted away from the time saving of the 225mph trains and more towards the need to provide more capacity on the rail network.
The report shows there will be 26 more trains a day between Wolverhampton and London Euston, stopping at stations including Birmingham, Coventry and Milton Keynes. But they will be provided by an operator such as London Midland, meaning they will stop at many stations on route, rather than the faster services provided by Virgin Trains.
And there will be 87 fewer trains a day north of Birmingham on the old InterCity West Coast line, including merging services between Liverpool and Wolverhampton and diverting Liverpool trains via the West Midlands.
Doing so will allow for three high speed trains an hour between London and Birmingham city centre and another two per hour to a new station by Birmingham Airport.
Three trains an hour would run from London Euston to Manchester and one per hour to the station by Birmingham Airport on the HS2 line.
Richard Threlfall, KPMG’s head for infrastructure, building and construction, said: “There have been repeated calls for a business case for the HS2 scheme focused on jobs, productivity and growth. KPMG’s analysis forms a key part of that business case, setting out the economic impact across the country of the scheme.
“It shows beyond reasonable doubt that HS2 brings net benefits to the country of many times the scheme’s cost. It shows the UK will be £15 billion a year better off with HS2, recovering the cost of the scheme within just a few years,” he added.
“Our analysis also shows that HS2 will significantly help counter the corrosive effects on our country of the widening north-south divide.”
Gavin Williamson, MP for South Staffordshire and parliamentary private secretary to transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin, said: “I’m sick of seeing London getting the lion’s share of investment. It’s time to get a better deal for the Midlands and the North of England and HS2 does that.”