Esther Mcvey, who wants to see HS2 scrapped has welcomed an independent report into the UK’s rail needs which found prioritising regional rail links would bring the greatest economic benefits.
The Tatton MP has been campaigning for the brakes to be put on the high speed line and money spent on local transport links across Cheshire and the North West since being elected in 2017. She believes towns and regions would benefit from more rail investment and it would also help deliver on Boris Johnson’s promise to “level up” the country.
Now a report by The National Infrastructure Commission, which provides Government with impartial, expert advice on major long term infrastructure challenges, said regional schemes would reap rewards.
The report said: “Prioritising regional links appears to have the highest potential economic benefits overall for cities in the Midlands and the North and would improve many of the currently poorest services.”
It also found: “Large scale rail investment has high costs, and the benefits for economic transformation are not certain, making it a strategic bet.”
Ms McVey said Government ministers must take note of the report and invest in local schemes and stop throwing money at HS2.
She said: “This is an independent report and it clearly states regional links have the highest economic benefits and especially now, as we begin our recovery from Covid-19 that is what we need. The North has been hit hard with repeated lockdowns and being placed in the higher tiers. Government is committed to levelling up and one way to do that is to start by improving transport links across the North and regions and investing in supporting infrastructure. You do not waste billions of pounds pushing ahead with a high speed line which will take a few minutes off a journey to London.
“I have been clear in my opposition to this and the need for better links for my constituents and I will keep fighting against HS2 and for better transport links for my constituents.”
Lord Berkeley, former deputy chair of the Oakervee Review into HS2, said: “I welcome this report and its emphasis on delivering rail improvement in the North and Midlands regions where the economic need is greatest. It is the first report from a government agency that challenges the runaway costs of HS2 and recommends that any enhancements beyond upgrades should be dependent on whether the core schemes are delivered ‘on time and within the budget’. Applying this to HS2 should mean cancelling it tomorrow and spending the money in the regions – where there are many shovel ready projects.”