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Baroness Kramer speaks out for HS2

New transport minister Baroness Susan Kramer MP has warned that the rail network faces “a crisis in capacity” without HS2. 

Speaking at the Railway Engineers Forum event yesterday, she set out the challenges to the project. Engineers will discuss the case for the route, the impact of HS2 on the wider rail network, delivering better passenger services and connectivity, operational challenges of integrating new systems with existing infrastructure, developing new rolling stock, and the next generation of railway engineers needed.

Baroness Kramer said: “We are driving forward HS2 because the benefits it will bring are huge. And without HS2 we face a crisis in capacity on our rail network. The passion that exists for the project in the Railway Engineers Forum is extremely encouraging. I am determined, as is the rest of my department that this will be a great opportunity for British businesses and British workers. 

“Simply upgrading existing lines is not a practical solution. We have studied the alternatives to HS2, and both Network Rail and Atkins confirm they will not offer the same benefits. We have considered five different packages of rail improvements as alternatives to phase 1 of HS2. 

“Not only did these projects fail to deliver the astonishing extra capacity that HS2 will, the scale of work required for upgrades would cause so much disruption that the system would grind to a halt.” 

Jim Steer, director of Greenguage 21 said: “The industry is speaking up to state the undeniable case for High Speed Rail. It is crucial for future prosperity in the UK and an un-matched source of employment and regeneration opportunities. My industry colleagues and I are here to help build the technical case and allay some of the concerns, so that we don’t fail to grasp this chance to keep Britain’s railways great.”

Professor Andrew McNaughton, technical director of High Speed 2 said: “The need for a new high speed line has never been greater. HS2 isn’t all about speed; it is about capacity, connectivity, reliability and growth. If we don’t do anything now, the West Coast Mainline will be full by the mid 2020s. 

“Not only will HS2 transform rail travel and solve the crippling capacity crunch we are already facing, it will provide an engine for growth by creating thousands of jobs, acting as a catalyst for regeneration and helping rebalance the north-south economy.” 

And Lawrie Quinn, Chair of the Railway Engineers Forum said: “I wholeheartedly support the proposals for High Speed Rail in the UK, the proposed ‘Y’ route will bring us up to (high) speed with the rest of the world and it’s about time. Britain doesn’t just need the X Factor, it needs the Y factor!” 

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