'HS2 doesn’t actually seem expensive to me' - music mogul Pete Waterman

"HS2 is life changing. For our generation, it’s an amazing upheaval. But we have to do it for our children’s children."

Pete Waterman at Bridgnorth's Severn Valley Railway in 2009
Pete Waterman at Bridgnorth's Severn Valley Railway in 2009

Music mogul and HS2 Growth Taskforce member Pete Waterman says the controversial multi-billion pound high speed line from Birmingham to London is a vital investment for future generations - and has likened its construction to the creation of the nation's motorways.

The former Pop Idol judge says the prime benefit of Birmingham being little more than 30 minutes from London via HS2 for the region is not in Midland folk being able to get to London faster, but in enabling those from the capital to easily access the region due to 'staggering' costs in London.

"HS2 will bring employment, opportunity and connectivity to the Midlands," said Pete, whose multi-million pound career saw him write and produce songs for the likes of Kylie Minogue, Steps, Rick Astley and many more.

Pete Waterman after collecting an OBE for services to music in 2005

"Birmingham will be 36 minutes away from London. Birmingham will effectively be where Watford is on the map.

"When you look at the whole region of the West Midlands, it can only benefit from being closer to the capital.

"It’s not about people from the Midlands going to London, it’s about people from London having the opportunity to easily travel to the Midlands.

"The prices in London are staggering.

"If we weren’t to go ahead with it, it would be like not having built motorways. I don’t like motorways, but we wouldn’t be the country we are today without them."

The Coventry-born former Stock, Aitken, Waterman businessman and train aficionado says he would have been unable to pursue his goals, which saw him working in London, had it have not been for the improved transport links which made commuting from the Midlands to London feasible.

Juges in the World Idol competition: Pete Waterman for the UK and Simon Cowell for the US

The icon's love for rail has seen him build two successful train businesses from scratch, creating hundreds of jobs in Crewe in the process. Pete is also a patron of the National Skills Academy for Railway Engineering - and has been since its establishment in 2010.

Due to his passion and previous experience, the government invited Pete to sit on its HS2 Growth Taskforce in 2013, which was challenged to identify and promote opportunities for economic development and other benefits.

"I became what I am because Coventry became an hour’s journey from London," added BBC WM radio presenter Pete, aged 71.

"When it involved two-hour train journeys from Birmingham, I couldn’t possibly have commuted every day.

"It would have meant spending three or four hours a day on the train. It would have made it impossible."

HS2 is set to cost £55.7 billion but Pete says he doesn't consider this to be a significant expense, given the benefits it will bring to the nation - adding that 'in 30 years, nobody will blink an eyelid'.

Pete Waterman with the Black Country flag

"HS2 doesn’t actually seem expensive to me. When you look at the enormity of what’s being done; what has to be built," said Pete.

"And it means 25,000 people will be employed for 10 years.

"It will be opening in 2033. It’s enormous. We’ll actually be short of staff due to the amount which are required.

"There have been colleges opened to get people trained up faster.

"This is going to be a complete game changer. It’s such as massive undertaking. And it will leave some people with a job for life, as there’s also the maintenance the line will require once it’s up and running.

"In 30 years nobody will blink an eyelid. It’s like some historical train lines - people would be up in arms were they to be touched now, but at the time they were built people didn’t want them there.

"We’ve done it before. We build communities, we don’t split them.

Pete Waterman, Neil Fox, Nicki Chapman and Simon Cowell pose for a picture promoting Pop Idol in 2003

"And we’re not short of countryside in the this country, thank goodness.

"We’re doing things which will impact the nation’s scenery as delicately as we can.

"As a country, we need to build more than a million homes. We can’t close our eyes to the fact the community is growing.

"I would love to go back to 1954; of course I would. But we live in a different world now and technology has taken over.

"Nobody wants to protect history more than I do - but not at a cost to future generations.

"It’s all a delicate balance. With something so huge, there are always going to be some losers unfortunately.

"But you have to say ‘while I feel sorry for you, you need to look at the bigger picture’.

Pete Waterman gets started on the foundations of Dudley College's new Dudley Advance Engineering and Construction Centre in Priory Road, Dudley, in 2013

"Your great, great grandchildren will benefit massively.

"The British don’t like change.

"Looking back 200 years, when Dickens wrote The Old Curiosity Shop, he describes going to Wolverhampton and seeing the industry there as basically Dante’s Inferno. But that was progress. We can’t turn back.

"People want better roads, wages and quality of life - and rightly so.

"No one would say they shouldn’t improve the healthcare system."

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