The president of the Institute of Highway Engineers (IHE) says the HS2 project needs to be thought through.
Speaking in his President’s blog Richard Hayes (pictured) said: “The debate over the HS2 project has reached a significant level over the past few weeks. With the release of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report into the early programme preparation being critical of the strategic case made by the Department for Transport (DfT) as not being the best way to spend £50 billion. It was interesting to see the Secretary of State for Transport now saying that improved journey times between Birmingham and London in the first phase of the works are not the main reason behind the project; rather it is to provide additional capacity on the rail network.”
Hayes has called on the Government to carefully consider the level of investment being made in HS2.
He added: “Many colleagues have looked enviously at the HS2 project and dreamed of what this level of investment could bring to the roads sector and whilst acknowledging that HS2 is a worthy project. The findings of the PAC put this assertion into doubt and I share the views expressed in the report that if this level of investment is available, then there are better ways of spending it to achieve the desired goals.
“As part of an integrated transport network, capacity on the rail network must be a priority. The movement of freight back to the rail network will allow the highway network to cope more easily and deal with the extreme pressure it is currently under. A fully thought through transport policy on our overall capacity and the economic benefits is still needed and if £50 billion is available then we need to challenge the current proposals. The roads sector is a vital adjunct to the rail network as it has to deliver the connectivity between rail halt and local destinations. I think this challenge should happen quickly before expensive projects are commissioned.”