23 September 2021
Bridgen calls for extended debate on impact of HS2 on energy policy

Andrew Bridgen calls for an extended debate the impact of HS2 on Government energy policy and the level of annual subsidy needed to support the project.

Andrew Bridgen (North West Leicestershire) (Con)

Experts in the field estimate that the energy requirements of High Speed 2 trains will be five times that of conventional rail. Given that HS2 was sold to us as a green project, and given that the level of interest in the House is such that contributions to last week’s 90-minute Westminster Hall debate were limited to two or three minutes—many hon. and right hon. Members who wished to participate, including me, were not even called—can we have an extended debate on the impact of HS2 on Government energy policy and the level of annual subsidy with which this loss-making project will have to be supported, if it is ever built? Can we have that debate before 2041, when, my whistleblower at the very top of HS2 tells me, phase 1 will actually be able to carry passengers between London and Birmingham?

Mr Rees-Mogg (The Leader of the House of Commons)

I thought whistleblowing was more for steam engines than for fast, high-speed trains, but never mind.

Obviously, the energy needed to run a train that is 440 yards long—that is two furlongs, which is an extraordinary length for a train—and going at 225 mph is more than the energy required to run Ivor the Engine. That has to be built into this country’s overall energy plans, but the cost of energy to operate the HS2 network has been accounted for within the project’s overall business case. This energy will be procured on the open market at the right time to start operations and achieve value for money for the taxpayer.

Once operational, HS2 will be delivering significantly lower overall carbon journeys than other modes, offering journeys at roughly half the carbon impact of intercity rail per passenger mile. The delivery into service date for phase 1 of HS2 remains 2029 to 2033, so I am interested in my hon. Friend’s whistleblower and I will, of course, pass the whistle on to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport.