Full speed ahead
Sir: William Astor (‘Signal failure’, 14 January) writes that High Speed 2 is supported only by ‘northern Labour MPs who relish the thought of the beauty of the Chilterns being destroyed’. He seems to have missed the MPs from across the House of Commons who joined forces this week to welcome the project.
Links between the north and the south of our nation are of vital importance. Better connections are great for jobs across the north of England, but they are also necessary for the overdue rebalancing of our economy to which the Prime Minister is firmly committed.
Lord Astor relies on the internet as proof that rail demand will decrease. The evidence suggests otherwise. The West Coast Mainline is now forecast to be completely full by 2024. The rail industry expects demand across the network to double by 2035. Demand for rail freight is set to double by 2030. With conventional rail lines freed up by HS2, this demand can be met. Capacity will also be released for local journeys, so that we will see more, faster travel between regional centres.
Lord Astor further ignores that the second phase of the plan includes a direct link to Heathrow; dismisses the shorter journey time from London to Birmingham; and overlooks the dramatic reductions in journey times that passengers will see from London to Manchester or Leeds.
I, too, love the countryside. But this is not an excuse to oppose a scheme that will create over 40,000 jobs, raise nearly £45 billion, and help close the north-south economic divide. High-speed rail will help build a modern economy fit for the future. As a Conservative northern MP, I wholeheartedly welcome the decision.
Graham Evans MP
Weaver Vale, Cheshire
Sir: David Cameron seems to have forgotten that he is a constituency MP, and that without the votes of the good people of Witney he would not be Prime Minister.