I've recently been talking to West Midlands Conservative MEP Malcolm Harbour about the planned high speed rail link from Birmingham to London. Representing the whole of the West Midlands, Malcolm has to take a balanced view as to HS2's benefits versus any potential disruption caused along the route.
While recognising that some communities and individuals in the wider region will be adversely affected, Malcolm has given his firm backing to HS2. He says, 'The Government has pledged to build a new High Speed Rail network as part of its programme of measures to create a low carbon economy. I fully support this decision and believe it will be a vital measure that will help to deliver significant and long-lasting economic and societal benefits for Britain.
High Speed Rail has the potential to transform the way Britain works and competes in the 21st Century. It can also play a significant role in easing congestion and making the transport system in the UK greener, by offering an alternative to thousands of short haul flights and road journeys. Furthermore, it will also free up capacity on our existing rail infrastructure and improve frequency and service levels for passengers. The Birmingham and West Midlands economy will benefit significantly from the links to the North and South, with the planned extension to Manchester and Leeds which will continue our region’s regeneration.'
I welcome Malcolm's commitment to HS2 and agree that the benefits to Birmingham and the West Midlands will be significant and long-lasting. Bringing Birmingham and London closer together will be a great thing for both cities.