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05.02.20

Lord Berkeley addresses government in letter to Grant Shapps over HS2

Debate around HS2 remains constant and divisive, with both sides arguing potential benefits to the Northern region should the project either go ahead or be shelved.

That conversation continued as one of the most prominent dissenting voices on the project, Lord Berkeley, addressed a letter (dated February 4, 2020) to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, outlining the improvements which could be made to existing rail network and train services should HS2 not be built.

Copies of the correspondence were sent to the Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer.

In the letter, seen by Rail Technology Magazine, Lord Berkeley argues these improvements would still provide transport and economic benefits to all regions, cities and towns north of London which would have been approached by the proposed HS2 route. He refers to attached documents outlining a prospectus of potential improvements, their estimated costs and the benefits of them.

The pro bono report attached, authored by Robert Goundry, James Mackay and Jim Summers and called ‘Connecting Britain by Rail - A Prospectus for Change’, in Lord Berkeley’s eyes builds on the summary he submitted to the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee at the end of January.

A SUMMARY OF THE PROSPECTUS FOR CHANGE CAN BE READ HERE

According to Lord Berkeley, he feels would appropriately address the aims of the HS2 project to improve capacity towards London by developing and improving all main lines to the capital.

The document proposals describe the development of city-region networks, including routes across the Pennines, to help assist carrying high volumes of passengers and freight quickly. A 20-year network electrification project is also mentioned by Lord Berkeley in his letter, seeking to bring rail services in the North to the quality found around London.

Lord Berkeley suggests in the letter that his proposed improvement works would represent a saving of £128bn compared to the total HS2-related cost of £231bn named in his cost summary submitted to Government in January 30, 2020.

The fate of the HS2 project remains in the air, with the Transport Secretary repeatedly suggesting no decision would be made until all the information had been gathered as part of the Oakervee Review, due to be released imminently.

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