Thurston issues rallying cry for HS2 benefits

The chief executive of HS2 has firmly rejected suggestions that the line should be renamed in an effort to secure greater Parliamentary and public support for the £56 billion project.

Mark Thurston told industry leaders that while more could be done to communicate the line’s wider benefits to its sceptics, adopting an alternative name such as North South Rail would be seen as ‘spin’ and a ‘cynical move’ to shift public opinion.

It follows claims made by former HS2 Chairman Sir Terry Morgan in January that the project had been misnamed, because the strongest arguments to build it are more about adding capacity and enhanced connectivity to the network.  

But at the Railway Industry Association’s Innovation Conference in Telford on March 19, Thurston defended the project’s current branding by telling delegates that faster journey times would “transform where people work and how they live their lives”.

He added: “The speed is really important. We haven’t built a new railway north of London for over a hundred years, and if we’re going to build a new one then it has to be a fast one.

“People in this room, in their advocacy of the project, must remind people that it’s not just about speed, however, but also capacity and connectivity.

“We could , but I think we’re beyond that now and it would be seen as spin and a cynical move to move the arguments. We want to concentrate on what is important.”

  • For the FULL story, read RAIL 876, published on April 10, and available digitally on Android, iPad and Kindle from April 6.

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