Joan Walley, former chair of the environmental audit select committee, and others react to a government review of the high-speed rail project
Philip Inman asserts that “HS2 has been 15 years in the making and is the best compromise option the transport ministry and its advisers could come up with for improving the UK’s transport system” (Business view, 22 August). HS2’s problem is that it is uncompromising: it was designed to run very fast, and therefore in an almost straight line, worsening its damage to the landscape, failing to reach the centres of many cities or Scotland, and badly connected with the rest of the railway network.
More recent compromises to address those weaknesses, such as smaller loading gauge, shorter trains that can also run on existing routes, and trams and “people-movers” to take passengers from its stations to where they actually want to go, have worsened HS2’s already fragile economics. Let us hope the review panel takes a broader view of how transport needs between city regions and within them can sustainably be met, recommends forgetting HS2 and starts work on smaller-scale, lower-risk alternatives that could improve more people’s journeys sooner and more efficiently.James MackayWarwick
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