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COMMENT: Why we don't need HS2

Staffordshire | | Published:

If there is a huge infrastructure project this country needs, it is not HS2.

It will not do anything to ease congestion on Britain's clogged roads and it won't do a single thing to drive new business to the Midlands or the North.

The only guaranteed job creation will be the short-term construction roles, but how many of these will be with British firms and for British workers remains to be seen.

Read about the vote in the House of Commons here.

The whole thing smacks of a vanity project from a Prime Minister desperate to leave some sort of legacy.

Yet it is increasingly likely HS2 will in fact be Mr Cameron's Millennium Dome.

Already we can get from Stafford, some 15 miles north of Wolverhampton, to London Euston in one hour 19 minutes.

How will shaving off 20 minutes rebalance our economy and create thousands of jobs?

The Government's response to this has never been satisfactory. And we can only guess whether HS2, with its Birmingham spur, will improve the local services across the Black Country in reality.

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But that appears highly unlikely.

Additionally there is the impact on families, villages, and towns which in some cases will be quite literally torn apart by the high-speed line.

The fact that it will not be fully operational until 2033 suggests we are putting a great deal of faith in a mode of transport which had its heyday in the Victorian era.

Trains, high speed or not, no longer play the major role in the nation's transport.

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We live in a different world. With technological advances, who is to say where we will be in 10 or 20 years' time? The Government is taking a multi-billion pound gamble with our money. The estimated £55bn cost of HS2 could quite easily be spent on building new roads, fixing pothole plagued routes or improving existing rail services.

However, such projects would not fulfil Mr Cameron's lofty ambition to be remembered. Neither would they sit well with the green lobby that he is too meek to risk offending.

So rather than have a common sense and practical national transport policy, we are stuck with a costly white elephant that offers seemingly little apart from adding significantly to the country's debt mountain.

By the time of the reckoning, Mr Cameron and those who have been vocal cheerleaders for HS2, will be long gone.

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