Chamber boss speaks about HS2

An example of the high speed 'HS2' train which could tear up the Erewash Valley.
An example of the high speed 'HS2' train which could tear up the Erewash Valley.
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HS2 is the “only practicable suggestion on the table” to solve the country’s transport problems according to the head of Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Chamber of Commerce.

Chief executive, George Cowcher, was speaking after a prediction of the economic benefits for the high-speed rail link was slightly loweredfrom £2.50 to £2.30 for every pound spent.

The scheme could see a track with trains capable of 225mph running through the Erewash Valley.

Mr Cowcher said: “There have been many reports saying that in 20 years’ time there will be a real issue about rail and road capacity in this region. It is an issue which will have to be resolved and HS2 has been the only practicable suggestion on the table to address the problem.

“That said, if additional viable schemes are put forward, they would need to be robustly scrutinised to establish whether or not they would be an alternative to HS2 and provide better value to the taxpayer.

“The Secretary of State for Transport is right to state we need a radical solution to the problem. It’s not a ‘do nothing’, scenario, so what is the alternative?”

The route from Birmingham to Leeds - which would start operating in 2033 - as well as the location of stations is still subject to consultation.

In July, Derby City Council called on the Government to explain why a route through Derby, with a station in the city, had not been chosen.

Mr Cowcher continued: “High-speed is a misnomer. HS2 is about connectivity and capacity, not about shaving minutes off the journey time to London.

“Its benefits will manifest over the long term. The East Midlands cannot be left with insufficient rail capacity or poor connectivity with London and the North.

“It’s still very early days in the whole HS2 debate. There is much more to be done in terms of assessing its overall viability and finalising the route to maximise its potential. It’s important to look at the phasing of the scheme to ensure it is delivered seamlessly, rather than in three disparate stages.

“Connectivity is absolutely crucial to the business community in the East Midlands, whether it’s to London, Heathrow, Birmingham, Leeds or Manchester.

“We have to ensure we have got good connectivity and have to find the money to do that. Transport infrastructure costs money.”