Chamber disappointed by IoD intervention on HS2

THE Birmingham Chamber of Commerce Group (BCCG) has hit back at the Institute of Directors (IoD) after it described the HS2 high-speed rail project as a “grand folly”.

Jerry Blackett, chief executive of the Chamber, said: “We believe that the really ‘grand folly’ would be to believe that it is possible to squeeze meaningful amounts of capacity out of the existing rail network. Network Rail has made it very clear that this is not physically possible.

“And here at the BCCG we have the local knowledge that understands the overwhelming economic benefits that HS2 would bring by spreading wealth throughout the country.”

The BCCG has endorsed a 12-point rebuttable of the IoD’s conclusions.

One of them tackles the IoD’s conclusion that the project is not value for money.
“Surely the core cities prediction of 400,000 jobs and GG21 prediction of 20,000 construction jobs for 15 years provides jobs on a scale too good to turn aside,” it said.

Blackett described the IoD’s stance as disappointing and added: “Richard Threfall, the head of insfrastructure at KPMG, who produced a report in 2010 on the benefits of HS2, says that their work  showed that a high speed rail network in the UK could boost annual economic output in 2040 by between £17bn and £29bn, recovering the currently anticipated £50bn cost within just a couple of years.

“And last year 64% of respondents to the CBI-KPMG Infrastructure survey considered HS2 would have a positive impact on business.

“HS2 offers a transformational impact on the UK’s economy and its future competitiveness. If we fail to invest the UK will be on a downward spiral to a second tier economy.”