HS2 gets thumbs-down from Bradford businesses

Bradford businesses remain largely sceptical about the benefits of the proposed high-speed rail link between London and the North.

A survey by Bradford Chamber of Commerce conducted last month reveals that only a quarter (27%) of respondents feel that there is a good case for building HS2; more than half (58%) said that there was not a good case for the proposal; the rest (14%) were unsure.

More than two-thirds of respondents (67%) would prefer to see the money allocated for HS2 directed towards other transport projects; only 22% wanted to see the scheme continue.  Even less felt that costs would be kept within budget – 75% doubted that the scheme would be kept within the allocated £42 billion.

The survey of Bradford Chamber members, undertaken during January ahead of the government consultation on the scheme’s route alignment, saw 170 responses.  The planned rail line is set to go through Leeds, but not touch any part of Bradford.  Asked if there would be benefits to Bradford and Yorkshire, only 21% felt that HS2 will help Bradford, with 22% saying there would be as much benefit to Yorkshire as there would be to London.

On rail capacity, 16% said that HS2 was the best way to enhance capacity nationally, with 63% opposing that view.  Similar figures (15% and 67% respectively) were revealed when Chamber members were asked if HS2 was the best way to improve rail connectivity.

Paul Mackie, Bradford Chamber President, said:  “The findings show that Bradford businesses are deeply sceptical about the HS proposal.  As the line is not set to come to Bradford anyway, it is probably to be expected that support here is lower than in places like Sheffield and Leeds; but the divide between support and opposition is so wide that we feel that, even if the scheme were to come to Bradford, there would still be many doubts that this is the best value-for-money project for the rail network.  Businesses want to see investment in transport improvements – whether that’s infrastructure for capacity and connectivity, services to improve point-to-point links, or other specific measures to ease congestion – but many see this scheme as either too expensive, providing benefits mainly to London, or they challenge the business case being used to defend HS2.  It’s time to go back to the drawing board and think again.”

What Bradford Chamber members said about the HS2 proposal

Survey results – January 2014

Yes

No

Unsure

Is there a good case for building HS2?

27%

58%

14%

Will it benefit Bradford?

21%

61%

17%

Will it benefit Yorkshire as much as London?

22%

65%

12%

Will costs be kept within budget?

3%

75%

22%

Does HS2 provide best value-for-money to improve the national rail network?

10%

65%

23%

Do you support HS2, or prefer to the see the £42 billion spent on other transport projects?

22%

67%

10%

Is HS2 the best way to enhance rail capacity nationally?

16%

63%

20%

Is HS2 the best way to improve rail connectivity for Bradford and West Yorkshire?

15%

67%

14%

Should Bradford be better connected by either a new ‘central’ station in the city, or connecting Interchange and Forster Square?

48%

15%

31%

Written on 18th February 2014Lillie Geistdorfer. Published in Current Issues, Lobbying, News, Survey