The high speed rail line will be “dead in the water” if Birmingham and the West Midlands doesn’t come out fighting in favour, the man responsible for promoting the £17 billion scheme has warned.
Professor David Begg, director of the Campaign For High Speed Rail, said he did not believe the first stage of HS2 from London to Birmingham was bound to go ahead come what may and that pressure from opponents could still deliver a fatal blow to the project.
He urged Birmingham to “stand up and be counted” as the high speed campaign published a list of 10 claims which it says are being unfairly made by groups condemning HS2 as an expensive waste of money.
Prof Begg, who was in Birmingham to meet West Midlands Transport Authority officials this week, said: “The people who are opposed to high speed rail tend to be very vociferous and the people who are for tend not to say very much. There is an assumption that this is going to happen because it is backed by the Government and the opposition.
“But history tells us that political views can shift and I do not believe this can be described as a done deal by any means. It needs to be argued for and worked for.”
Some communities along the planned London-Birmingham line are campaigning hard against the scheme, while Warwickshire, Staffordshire and Coventry councils have also come out against HS2 arguing that it will bring them no benefits.
Prof Begg insisted that surveys proved the business community to be solidly behind HS2, which he said would bring huge economic benefits to Birmingham and the West Midlands.
The new track would also free up additional capacity on the West Coast Main Line running through Wolverhampton, Birmingham and Coventry, permitting additional commuter services to run.
But he accepted that HS2 supporters have been slow in promoting their cause.