High Speed Rail - Transport Committee Contents

Written evidence from Alison and Mick Tyler (HSR 19)

We are writing to state our opposition to the proposal to build HS2 from London to Birmingham. We do not believe there is a sound business, economic or environmental case to back this proposal nor do we think that there is enough money to fund this "vanity" project. Our arguments against HS2 are as follows:


The demand forecast is based on a projected growth in demand of 267% by 2033 (from 45,000-145,000 per day) This is an unrealistic estimate of potential passenger numbers.

Forecasts in the past have been incorrect as in the case of Eurostar which is carrying 50% fewer passengers than forecast.

HS2 Ltd has assumed that time on a train is wasted and that therefore to save time on the train is to save money. This is not true. The majority of business people use the journey time to work. They use laptops, mobile phones and have discussions with follow business travellers. Reducing travelling time between London and Birmingham, which at present is only 1 hour 20 minutes, will reduce the amount of time for working.

Trains from Coventry to Euston run three times an hour at present and take 1 hour 5 minutes. This excellent service will be cut to one train per hour. Business people currently travelling from Coventry station will have to travel to Birmingham to catch a train to London thereby negating any time saved on HS2.

The development of IT over the next 15 years will reduce the necessity for people to travel to meetings. Even now many companies have cut the costs of travel and use IT to hold meetings. The cost of fares on HS2 will double, according to forecast projections, which would make it prohibitive for individuals, small and medium business to use this service. HS2 will be for a few large companies with executives paid well over the national average salary.


This project will cost £24 billion, increasing to £34 billion and could cost each household in Britain more than £1,000. In an era of spending cuts and economic downturn it is not justifiable to spend such a massive amount of money when the public sector is facing huge cuts to its budget. Some of the billions of pounds could be spent on public services which would benefit the whole country not just a small number of highly paid business people.

There is more likely to be a decline in the economy of cities bypassed by HS2. The train will not stop at Milton Keynes, Northampton, Coventry or any other towns or cities between Birmingham and London. The prospect of economic growth for these places along the route will be damaged and businesses could relocate rather than generate income which will lead to many areas becoming economically inactive.

The existing West Coast line has 45,000 passengers per day and HS2 Ltd predicts that of its estimated increase of 100,000 passengers, 38,000 people per day will use HS2 'just because it is there, which is quite ridiculous. With up to 18 trains per hour in each direction it cannot be economically sound to expect that so many people will travel between Birmingham and London every day when we should be conserving energy. It makes more sense economically to improve the existing West Coast and East Coast lines which would significantly improve the transport network for far more people. Extending platforms and increasing the number of carriages these routes would prove to be economically beneficial to the whole country and stimulate growth around cities with rail stations. RP2 is a more sound economic proposal.

HS1 has not proved to be the overwhelming success it was forecast to be. It is being sold at a loss.


HS2 is only going to be carbon neutral so will not create the low carbon economy claimed.

Natural areas of beauty through Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Warwickshire will be ruined and the protected Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty will be irreplaceably damaged.

It is believed that fewer than 2% of those using motorways between London and Birmingham will switch to HS2.

Since there are no flights from Birmingham to London there is no potential for HS2 to replace air travel.

Carbon emissions generated by construction of power stations and the line will be huge.

HS2 could consume four times the energy of existing high speed trains.

Noise levels will be unacceptably high and cause distress to people and animals.

Areas of countryside along the route will be permanently scarred. A rigid route will not fit with the English landscape.

Animal and bird habitat will be destroyed.

Historic woodlands will be lost and water tables will be adversely affected.

Agricultural, leisure and recreational areas will be destroyed which are intrinsic features of the British landscape.


Upgrade the existing train network and public transport so that the benefits of an improved travel service will be available to the whole population. The Coalition Agreement policy is to create "A truly national high speed rail network for the whole of Britain". HS2 will link only two cities in the first phase. Rail Package 2 makes more economic and business sense because a wider proportion of the population would benefit from upgrading the existing rail network for much less cost than HS2.

Concentrate on stimulating growth of all towns and cities in Britain so that efficient, effective and economic transport services are available for individuals, families and business travellers.

Examine the alternative options of developing the existing transport corridors such as the M1 and M40.


A high speed rail does not need to travel at 250 mph. It is without precedent. Engines, track and technology have not been developed to cope with this excessive speed.

We think the proposal for HS2 should be subject to a public enquiry before any final decisions are made.

We want a rail service that serves us, one that we can use to places other than London and one that we can afford and that the whole country can use.

May 2011

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Prepared 8 November 2011