Noddy Holder: HS2 line will be an expensive mistake

HS2 has a new very vocal opponent – Slade’s Noddy Holder.

Noddy Holder has become the latest voice against the controversial HS2
Noddy Holder has become the latest voice against the controversial HS2

The singer, from Walsall, has a home in Cheshire where the route will cut through.

As work progresses, he has added his voice to those who say the line will end up as a white elephant.

HS2 bosses say work is progressing well and that 20,000 jobs have been created by the project.

But 75-year-old Noddy says existing rail lines are sufficient and that people simply won’t use HS2.

The line is currently being built between London and Birmingham’s Curzon Street. Preparatory work is also underway in Staffordshire for the second section of HS2 from the West Midlands to Manchester.

Noddy said: “In terms of the economic benefits I’m not sure how much prosperity HS2 is going to bring to the West Midlands. While it’s being built it will provide a lot of jobs. In terms of it permanently impacting, I’m not convinced.

“I’m a big advocate of the Midlands. It doesn’t matter which government is in charge in London, but they seem to think nothing goes on north of Watford. They are trying to bring the rest of the country south.”

The former Slade frontman said rail chiefs should consider putting more trains on the existing West Coast Mainline instead.

He also suggested that the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on working lives may change the need to commute long distances on a daily basis in the future.

Work is underway on the first phase of HS2 between London and Birmingham. The second phase of HS2 will travel northwards through Staffordshire and Cheshire towards Manchester. Walsall-born Noddy, who has a home in Cheshire, said: “Personally I can’t see how it’s going to help in the long-term.”

He said passengers can already get from Chester to London in good time. The average journey time is two hours and six minutes, with around four trains a day between the two cities.

Noddy said: “That’s not a long travelling time for people in the grand scheme of things. It would be better if they put more trains on that route instead of halving them during the day time, then they won’t be so full and it will be more comfortable for passengers.

“Instead we’re building a whole new rail network. Since the start of the pandemic people have got a bit more used to working at home. There’s not so much need for many to travel. People don’t need to commute every single day.

Services on the West Coast Mainline are operated by Avanti West Coast which replaced previous operator Virgin Trains in 2019 after 22 years. Campaigners along the HS2 route including in Woore and Staffordshire have complained of construction disruption and having to uproot homes for HS2.

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