“Essential to spreading prosperity”: An open letter from the rail industry on the importance of HS2

A field, along the route of HS2. Image: Getty.

Last Friday Friday, a coalition of executives from the rail and construction industries, organised by the Rail Industry Association, sent the following open letter to the government regarding the future of the HS2 rail link.

The Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP

Prime Minister, First Lord of the Treasury and Minister for the Civil Service

10 Downing Street

London

SW1P 4DR 

 

17 January 2020

Re: The importance of HS2 to Britain’s future prosperity

Dear Prime Minister, 

We are writing to you as senior leaders in the British rail and construction sectors to express our deep alarm at mounting recent media reports that put into doubt the future of HS2.  

We want to take this opportunity to reiterate not only the devastating impact any curtailment of HS2 would have on our industry, but the detrimental effect cancellation would have on UK Plc more widely in terms of jobs, manufacturing, investment and export potential. To date, we have very much welcomed the Government’s commitment to increased infrastructure spending and investment. However, by putting a project of such national importance at risk, future infrastructure plans will also be threatened, as will the Government’s desire to level up the UK economy. 

HS2 is essential to joining up the UK and spreading prosperity throughout the country. Latest figures show that the project is already supporting approximately 10,000 jobs, is set to support 15,000 jobs by year end and 30,000 jobs at peak construction and train building activity, as well as 2,000 apprentices. Were HS2 to be cancelled, job losses would be calamitous, as would the missed opportunity to train and upskill the next generation of young people who will deliver the future infrastructure and rolling stock projects that the Government is ambitious to complete.  


As the Government reaches its decision, it also needs to be mindful of the fact that the HS2 project is well underway. Indeed, it has been going for more than 10 years and contracts worth billions have been signed. The cancellation of a Government project so far progressed would be unprecedented in the history of British construction.  Should this happen, the industry will have to include additional consideration for risk when pricing for future contracts, to bear in mind the risk of the Government cancelling future projects in the middle of delivery. To put it as clearly as possible, future infrastructure projects will cost the Government more, should HS2 be cancelled at this stage. 

Finally, we often hear talk of replacing HS2 with other projects elsewhere. To be clear, there is no other ‘shovel ready’ project in the UK of a remotely comparable size. The Government’s commitment to infrastructure projects in the North of England is laudable, but these projects are many years behind HS2 in terms of readiness to begin work and most, like Northern Powerhouse Rail, require HS2 to be delivered to realise their full benefits. A hiatus of this duration in Government investment, at this time, would have a devastating impact on jobs in the sector and risk delaying the infrastructure revolution by a decade.

The project is essential, and irreplaceable, to the Government’s goal of fixing the north-south divide which has beset Britain for generations. We urge you to reach a final conclusion as quickly as possible. We urge you to save the jobs of 10,000 people already employed on the project. We urge you to get HS2 done.

Yours sincerely,

David Hughes, CEO, ABB Ltd     

David Barwell, Chief Executive, UK & Ireland, AECOM

Nick Crossfield, CEO, Alstom UK & Ireland

Mark Cowlard, CEO, Arcadis UK and Ireland          

 

Matthew Behan CEO, Barhale   

Matt Byrne, President, UK, Bombardier Transportation

Vincent Avrillon, Managing Director, Bouygues

Jean-Pierre Bertrand, CEO, Colas Rail Ltd               

Jim Brewin, UK Country Lead, Hitachi Rail

Tim Gray, Managing Director, Hitachi Information Control Systems Europe Ltd

Dyan Crowther, CEO, HS1 

Donald Morrison, Senior Vice President and General Manager for People & Places Solutions, Europe, Middle East & Africa, Jacobs

Paul Goodhand, Managing Director, Knorr-Bremse Rail Systems (UK) Limited

Mike Haigh, Executive Chair, Mott MacDonald Ltd

John Murphy, CEO, J Murphy & Sons Ltd

Kathryn Nichols, CEO, Nichols Group

Wayne Peacock, Managing Director Pandrol UK Ltd

Mike Hughes, Zone President, UK & Ireland, Schneider Electric       

John Whitehurst, Managing Director, Transport, Serco

William Wilson, CEO, Siemens Mobility Ltd

Raj Sinha, Managing Director, SSE Enterprise Rail

Nick Salt, CEO, SYSTRA Limited

Frank McKay, CEO, telent

Shaun Jones, Vice President, Thales GTS

Noel Travers, Managing Director, Unipart Rail and Unipart Manufacturing Group

Steve Cocliff, Managing Director, VolkerRail Group

Mark Naysmith, UK CEO, WSP   

Tim Jones & James Fox, Managing Director & Commercial Director, 3Squared Ltd

Pino De Rosa, Managing Director, Bridgeway Consulting Ltd             

Noel Dolphin, Managing Director, Furrer+Frey    

Malcolm Wilson, Managing Director, IPEX Consulting Limited           

Paul McSharry, Managing Director, Kilborn Consulting Limited

Richard Kelly, Managing Director, Loram Ltd        

Paul Priestman, Chairman and Designer, Priestman Goode Ltd

Rui Costa, Managing Director, SOMAFEL

Paul Costello, Managing Director, Wentworth House Rail Systems Limited     

Munir Patel, Managing Director, XRAIL Group

David Tonkin & Darren Caplan, Chairman & Chief Executive, Railway Industry Association         

Simon Babes, SME Group Chair, Railway Industry Association            

Mike Hulme & Justin Moss, Co-Chairs, Northern Rail Industry Leaders            

Professor Clive Roberts, Head of School of Engineering and Director, Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education, University of Birmingham          

 

 

Cc:          Grant Shapps, Secretary of State for Transport

                Sajid Javid, Chancellor of the Exchequer

                Andrea Leadsom, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

                Rishi Sunak, Chief Secretary to the Treasury

                Douglas Oakervee, Chair, independent review of HS2

 
 
 
 

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