New railway lines are needed – and they need to be high-speed

Your report (October 23) that north and west Cambridgeshire were predicted to ‘lose’ between £25million and £80m if the HS2 rail link project were to be proceeded with is given appropriate (lack of) prominence.

What I suspect the consultant, KPMG, was estimating was the amount of additional investment that would be attracted elsewhere by the high-speed line, not that prosperity already here would leach away.

And, of course, the project to improve the A14 will attract far more additional investment to north and west Cambridgeshire than HS2 might divert. So the Department for Transport is correct to say that the project should be looked at in the wider context of the national economy.

There is no question that Britain needs additional railway capacity, and there is no point in building it to any standard other than high-speed because that is the signalling requirement for new railways in Europe – and that standard would be required of major upgrades to existing main lines.

Of course, it would have been good if the obvious route for a new north-south line were closer to Huntingdonshire. Then we could perhaps have emulated Vendôme, a small town on the river Loir, 100 miles or so from Paris. When the French railway administration, SNCF, was planning its south-west TGV line to Bordeaux, the council in Vendôme offered to build a new station if SNCF would stop a few trains there.

So Vendôme is now a prosperous commuter town, 40 minutes from Paris. That’s the sort of thing KPMG probably meant.

Ian MacKellar

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