NCE readers have panned the government’s plan for High Speed 2 (HS2), according to the findings of a poll.
Almost half (46%) of the 100-plus respondents said that they agreed with High Speed 1 chairman Rob Holden that the route should be completely redesigned as a classic railway to provide capacity from London to Manchester and beyond.
Just 9%of those who responded said they were convinced the current planned scheme from London to Birmingham and then on to Crewe, Manchester, East Midlands, Sheffield and Leeds was the right one.
The online poll accompanied an NCE story in which Holden heaped criticism on HS2’s need for speed and said that the threat of opposition from people affected in the Chilterns would be so great the project will be beset by costly delays.
If the speed was downgraded, and the route then able to be diverted from its most direct alignment away from the areas most contested, the scheme would be more viable, Holden argued.
While the majority of respondents agreed with the need for a new route of sorts – a further 18% said they wanted a new high speed route but with some changes – almost a quarter (24%) called into question the need for any new railway – high speed or otherwise.
A nominal 3% said they believed it was too late to change the scheme in accordance with Holden’s suggestions.
Jim Steer, chief executive of the High Speed Rail Industry Leaders Group and director of lobbyist Greengauge 21 said readers’ views were out of step with political opinion.
“Only a third say HS2 is about right as defined,” he said. “This is very different from the views of MPs who recently voted 10:1 in favour of the Phase 1 scheme [from London to Birmingham]. “And do [46%] of NCE readers really think it would be a good approach to re-start the whole process and go through another five years of planning and consultation on a conventional speed route? No government would contemplate this – perhaps that’s the intention.”