My views on HS2


As a Birmingham MP I’ve long supported HS2 because I know the benefits it can bring to our region.

It’s not so much about shaving a bit here or there from journey times.  Last year, over 1.5 billion journeys were made on the rail network. That is over 4,000 more train services a day than in the mid-1990s. Dwindling capacity means that more and more people will have to endure cramped, miserable journeys from, and into, cities like Birmingham. In 2011, during the morning peak, there were on average 5,000 people standing on arrival into Birmingham. We need to expand our existing rail capacity to boost our economy and securing a rail system that underlines our region’s  role as an economic powerhouse at the centre of the country – not only improving connectivity to London.

That’s why I have always said that we need to approach HS2 as a full project, not only Phase 1 between Birmingham and London. It’s also why we must ensure there are the right connections within our region so that everyone can benefit from HS2 and the potential it can bring. At a local level, that’s what I have been saying about improving connectivity at Longbridge station, and the importance of improving transport links as part of the Climb project that I launched for South West Birmingham in the summer.

In last week’s debate on HS2 Labour was absolutely clear about our support for a new north-south rail line. We voted in favour of the Paving Bill and will continue to provide the cross-party support that this major infrastructure project demands. But precisely because of the importance of getting HS2 right, it’s crucial that Labour’s support for HS2 is not based on a blank cheque. A credible government has to weigh up the costs and benefits properly and not allow the bill for HS2 to spiral in the way it appears to be doing. The National Audit Office and Public Accounts Committee’s scrutiny of HS2 have both shown that as costs soar, the benefit to the taxpayer dwindles.

That’s why, in winding up a recent Commons debate on HS2,  Labour’s Shadow Transport Secretary, Mary Creagh, called on the Government to “get a grip on this project, get control of the budget and get it back on track.”


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Richard Burden

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I was Labour Member of Parliament for Birmingham Northfield between 1992 and 2019 and a former Shadow Transport Minister. I now chair Healthwatch in Birmingham and Solihull, and the West Midlands Board of Remembering Srebrenica. I also work as a public affairs consultant. I am an effective community advocate and stakeholder alliance builder with a passion for human rights. I am a trustee of the Balfour Project charity and of Citizens Advice Birmingham, and a former Chair of Medical Aid for Palestinians.

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