Unions support for HS2

Scrapping would be “the grandest folly of all.”

The Institute of Directors have been criticised for their recent attack on the proposed HS2 high-speed rail link.  The Institute’s director general, Simon Walker, called for the project to be scrapped and replaced by investment in smaller rail projects such as the East and West Coast lines rather than what he described as “one grand folly”

However, Mr Walker’s comments have themselves drawn criticism. Midlands TUC Regional Secretary, Rob Johnston today said that they were “disheartening” and point ed out the benefits of HS2, work on which is due to begin in 2017. Mr Johnston said, “To raid the HS2 budget would be the grandest folly of all. It would be yet another example of short sightedness that has crippled the UK economy for far too long. HS2 represents medium term investment that secures long term, sustainable economic returns. And let us look at some of the projections: 400,000 jobs as a result of HS2, with 20,000 construction jobs for 15 years and a boost to economic performance that means the cost of HS2 would be recovered in just two years.

“The benefits to the Midlands regional economy are clear with the transformational benefits potentially profound. That is why supporters of HS2 must keep banging the drum and pointing out the benefits for our economy and the opportunities HS2 will bring for the people who live here.

“Despite the IoD’s comments, it was great to see that the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce have today come out so strongly in support. What is clear is that there is industrial support for HS2 here in the Midlands – and that speaks volumes. Business and union leaders here in the region know that we need HS2.

“Let us not be distracted. Let us secure jobs and growth and grasp this moment of opportunity, reject short termism and not squander this inheritance and commit. What would be, the truly grandest folly of all.”