Journey times between London and the West Midlands after the controversial £42.6 billion high speed rail line is built are still unknown, despite MPs being asked to back it, it has been revealed.
West Bromwich East MP Tom Watson today criticised the Government for not being able to confirm the details.
He asked questions of the Department for Transport about the HS2 project, while Ministers have admitted that they could not suggest what the fastest journey times would be between Wolverhampton and London when completed.
It comes as concerns have been raised that the stations may lose some of their fast, direct trains to London amid proposals from Network Rail to transfer most long distance services to Birmingham.
It may mean passengers are forced to change trains at Birmingham to go south from the Black Country or Crewe to go north from Stafford.
Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin has stressed that the government is not backing HS2 to take services away from the Black Country or Staffordshire.
But questions still remain over how the West Coast Main Line will be used once HS2 is finally up and running between London and Birmingham from 2026 and north to Manchester and Leeds from 2033.
Mr Watson said: “When the government is about to spend £42.6bn worth of taxpayers’ money on HS2, I think everyone in the Black Country has a right to know whether they will benefit from that investment.
“I am angered that ministers at the Department for Transport can’t reveal whether journey times from Sandwell and Dudley and Wolverhampton will be faster or slower once HS2 is completed.
He added: “Ministers need to be straight with taxpayers in the Black Country as to whether we will face cuts to direct services to London and slower journey times to pay for HS2.”
Transport minister Robert Goodwill told Mr Watson that the exact timetable, stopping patterns and services which will operate from the completion of HS2’s first phase to Birmingham had yet to be determined.
He said: “It is not realistic to set a timetable this far ahead.
“However, there is no reason to believe that direct train service times from London to these destinations will be adversely affected.
In addition, new services may enable passengers also to have faster journeys to these destinations by using HS2 services and changing as necessary.”
HS2 has yet to convince many of the region’s MPs, with rising costs and uncertainty of the benefits to local passengers in the Midlands.