The HS2 rail project is “fundamental” to the UK hitting its net zero emissions target by 2050, according to a report commissioned by rail industry bosses.
HS2, which is planned to link London with the north of England and Scotland via trains travelling at more than 200mph, will mean fewer people take cars and short-haul flights to get around the country, according to lobby group High Speed Rail Industry Leaders (HSRIL).
A flight from London Heathrow to Manchester takes just over an hour, excluding travel to and from the airports.
If HS2 goes ahead as planned, people would be able to make the same journey in one hour seven minutes, with a much smaller carbon footprint.
Furthermore, moves to limit the scope of HS2, currently being considered by a government-commissioned independent review into the scheme [Oakervee], would be “a huge own goal,” by weakening, not improving, its carbon case, said the HSRIL report.
HSRIL is a lobby group made up of bosses from companies such as Jacobs, Costain and Bombardier, who are contracted to work on HS2 by the government.
Jim Steer, the group’s director, said the project would play a “fundamental” role in achieving net zero, a term which refers to achieving an overall balance between emissions produced and emissions taken out of the atmosphere.
Ralph Smyth, the report’s author who is formerly of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, added: “Only HS2 can deliver the capacity and journey time savings to shift many more people out of cars and planes by the 2030s, without causing a decade of disruption to our existing train services.”
HS2 has been dogged by delay, scandal and spiralling costs in recent years, prompting Prime Minister Boris Johnson to commission the independent review into the divisive project, originally scheduled to land this autumn.
He has admitted the costs of the HS2 would probably be “north of £100bn”.
City A.M. understands the HS2 review, which is headed up by the project’s former chairman Doug Oakervee, is nearly finished. However, it has been delayed until after the General Election on 12 December.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps told the House of Commons in September that he would make a “go, no-go” decision in December – once he had seen the review.
Earlier this autumn Shapps revealed that the costs may spiral to £88bn by 2019 prices, against a budget of just over £62bn.