Direct train services could be cut to prioritise HS2, say campaigners

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Towns and cities in the Black Country and Staffordshire could lose direct services to London if HS2 goes ahead, campaigners battling the £50 billion project have claimed.

They believe the number of trains to the capital from Sandwell & Dudley, Wolverhampton and Stafford could be cut to prioritise the high speed line.

HS2 Ltd technical director Andrew McNaughton admitted services could be taken off the West Coast Mainline.

He added: "This gives us a chance to re-plan the West Coast Main Line with new services around the needs of the communities served by the West Coast Main Line, no longer largely controlled by the need to run non-stop trains from the likes of Liverpool, Manchester and Glasgow."

Mr McNaughton added that the Secretary of State has said that where people have a train service to London, after HS2 comes in, there ought to be a comparable service – but this would be 'balanced against the opportunity to improve commuting to the places that most need improved commuting'.

Stop HS2 campaign manager Joe Rukin said: "Supporters of HS2 have always said it is needed to 'free up capacity'. We have always said this means for dozens of towns and cities across England, Scotland and Wales losing the trains you currently have.

"Now this has finally been confirmed, it is clear HS2 is not about 'rebalancing the economy', it's about faster journey times to London for businessmen from a handful of cities, increasing the London commuter belt, and delivering £8.3bn of cuts to current rail services from places they don't think are important. There are much better ways to spend over £50bn of taxpayers money."

Department for Transport communications officer Lizzie Murray said: "One of the key aims for future service patterns is that all towns or cities which currently have a direct service to London will retain broadly comparable or better services once HS2 is completed.

"In addition, we are investigating how we can maximise the benefits of released capacity as a result of HS2. Decisions on future services will be taken nearer the time, and will be based on consultation and engagement with passengers and communities."

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