Alan Wenban-Smith says it is revealing that his report on the regional impact of the high-speed rail scheme was not published
Nils Pratley hits the nail on the head (Lobbyists may be having a field day justifying HS2’s burgeoning cost, but a rethink is long overdue, 21 January). In 2009 I reported to the promoters that the benefits of high-speed rail beyond the south-east would require a well-integrated national plan for complementary measures (transport and non-transport). Without such a plan – and a regional delivery mechanism – high-speed rail risked making regional disparities worse.
Fast forward to today: such limited regional mechanisms as existed have been dismantled, while the concept of high-speed rail has given birth to the present scheme. The case for HS2 rested heavily on the economic benefit of user time savings, making speed vital. This led to a higher speed specification than elsewhere in Europe, adding to the cost and environmental impact, while reducing flexibility in routing.