GARETH Morgan is just the sort of businessman they need in the North.
The company he founded near Sheffield employs 100 skilled workers who manufacture high-tech parts for the aerospace industry, which they sell abroad to countries including the USA.
4It would take just half of the £160bn that HS2 will cost to give the North and Midlands a frequent electrified rail network4The extra cost of the earth works and track to carry such fast trains is enormous — and all for vanityCredit: The Times4Governments have long talked about bringing prosperity to the North but HS2 is the biggest failure of the levelling-up agendaCredit: GettyBut when his customers from America fly into Manchester, they are forced to take a 40-mile taxi ride to Sheffield because the rail service — just like in much of the North — is very slow and totally unreliable.
Dr Morgan, the boss of Advanced Manufacturing (Sheffield), can travel easily to London but to see suppliers and customers in nearby towns in the North he has to use his car.
He agrees “1,000 per cent” that the planned 250mph high-speed train from London to Manchester should be scrapped now.
It would take just half of the £160billion that HS2 will cost to give the North and Midlands a frequent, reliable, comfortable, electrified rail network that is as good as the service enjoyed by commuters in the South East.
I have spent my life in civil engineering and was heavily involved in the building of the Channel Tunnel.
Sadly, I have come to the conclusion that HS2 is a £161BILLION vanity project that is bleeding the rest of the rail network to death.
As The Sun revealed yesterday, the project is not fit for purpose, especially when we can’t seem to design a station at London’s Euston that will accept the trains, which does seem to be rather stupid.
HS2 must be abandoned before we throw more good money after bad.
Out of control
Governments have long talked about bringing prosperity to the North but HS2 is the biggest failure of the levelling-up agenda.
All it will do is bring more people and money into the South East and not help the North nor the Midlands.
4The cost of HS2 Phase 1 was originally meant to be £10billion to 12billionCredit: ReutersGetting to and from London may be a priority for politicians and business leaders but the existing services are generally good.
Why do you need to get to London 30 minutes quicker when you have wifi and your laptop on the train?
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said yesterday that it is a “national embarrassment” that Britain does not have a high-speed train like Japan.
But HS2 Ltd, the company behind the project, has designed the scheme for trains to travel at 224-250mph which is higher than any other high-speed line in Europe or Japan.
Why do we need the greatest and fastest and best in the world for a little country like ours?
England is much smaller geographically than France, Germany or Italy.
We don’t need trains that can do 250mph an hour.
The extra cost of the earth works and track to carry such fast trains is enormous — and all for vanity.
The cost of HS2 Phase 1 was originally meant to be £10billion to 12billion.
By 2016 it had risen to £15.1billion and by 2019 the cost had gone up to £54.5billion, an increase of 361 per cent.
With construction inflation running at 15 to 20 per cent, the cost is now £161billion — and who knows how much the final bill will come to.
As well as costing billions more than planned, HS2 will bring in much less money than expected.
Calculations for income were based on 18 trains an hour, with higher fares for those using the line.
Even the HS2 company admits that no other high-speed line anywhere in the world is able to run more than 12 to 14 services an hour.
It is time to bring the whole project to an end before it gets out of control.
Cancelling Part 1 of HS2, from Birmingham to London, would lose around £10billion because much of the land could be sold or repurposed.
HS2 Part 2, to Crewe and Manchester, could easily be cancelled at minimum cost.
I talked to Rishi Sunak about it when he was Chancellor and he was very interested in my figures.
He wouldn’t say he was going to scrap it but I think there is a good chance that HS2 will either get truncated or dropped altogether.
Spending about £80billion of the money saved would dramatically improve local and regional rail services in the North and Midlands, where very few people used the railways even before the rail strikes.
Like Dr Morgan in Sheffield, those people want a reliable, east-to-west rail service so they can travel for education, jobs or shopping by rail rather than car.
It doesn’t have to be high-speed but it should have proper links, electrified hope- fully, joining cities such as Hull and Leeds, Doncaster and Sheffield, Manchester and Liverpool.
It would really help places like Bradford, which has a terrible service for such a big city.
Leeds station, in particular, is a mess.
There is an enormous amount that could be done but, rather than wait 25 years for the “benefit” of HS2, it is much less financially risky to do smaller projects and, if one part goes wrong, you learn for the next one.
I urge ministers to give the regions a modern network of rail services they deserve, as good or better than that around London, and to put the suffering residents along the HS2 route out of their long misery.
The other £80billion that would be saved could be spent on the NHS, education and the quality of life the people in the North and Midlands so desper- ately need.
Lord Berkeley is a civil engineer and was deputy head of a government review into HS2.
Story Credit: thesun.co.uk