Unions condemn government’s HS2 review

Visuals for the proposed HS2 Euston Station.

Unions have condemned the government’s decision to launch a review into HS2.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps yesterday announced the review, despite the government already having spent £7bn on the project to introduce high speed rail travel between London and northern England.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “HS2 is vital to the development of the UK economy and there must be no question of it being scrapped.

“It will deliver high-quality unionised jobs. It will reduce carbon emissions by taking freight off the roads. And it will ease the extreme congestion on our main rail networks.

“The review must not play off HS2 against other investment needs. New routes and faster links across other parts of the UK must be planned in tandem with HS2.”

ASLEF general secretary Mick Whelan said: “Our railway is running at full capacity. We need to modernise our network, much of which is running on Victorian infrastructure. As with so many things, the Tories are good at talking the talk, but when it comes to infrastructure and public services, they never walk the walk.

“Whether it’s electrification, rolling stock or now HS2, they promise the work our industry so desperately needs and then look for ways to pull the plug after millions or even billions have already been spent.

“I hope the review does the right thing and concludes that we need more train lines in this country to develop a greener and less polluting transport system for passengers and freight. We’ll also keep a keen eye on any announcements about Phase 2 taking the line to Leeds and Manchester.

“The Tories should be announcing plans to extend HS2 to Scotland. Not to scrap it. But under this government, I won’t hold my breath.”

TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes said: “The government is going down the wrong track with this review. However, I’d urge Mr Oakervee to consider first and foremost the vast economic, social and environmental benefits of HS2.

“This is a golden opportunity – using a clean and green scheme – to put rocket boosters under regional economies across the country, create thousands of additional jobs and better connect cities.

“HS2 is an essential pillar of our country’s modernisation and will be vital in assisting local authorities and business in the rebalancing of Britain’s economy.

“We need HS2 to run the length of Britain – from London to Scotland – delivering 21st Century transport links which will reboot our economy beyond the south east.”

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