A prominent Yorkshire businessman has claimed that new technologies will render the need for high-speed rail projects obsolete by the time they are completed.
Geoff Shepherd, managing director of iSource Group and a long-standing opponent of HS2, said reduced journey times would not render any substantive benefits for northern businesses.
“In a world where digital is becoming more integrated into our daily lives, I predict that by the time HS2 is finally built – in some 18 years – unless we adopt new travel and transport technologies, we will no longer be as reliant on passenger transport and that HS2 (and HS3) will be outdated before the first journey is made.
“I also expect, that in the next decade, we will be increasingly communicating in ways that reduce the need for us to make time-consuming journeys between cities.
“Businesses won’t be shackled by road and rail. I’m hopeful that we’ll embrace the benefits that new technologies will bring.
“We are talking about a train track that will save us 20 minutes from North to South. If someone came to me and said I want to spend billions and I will save you 20 minutes I wouldn’t be quick to grab my cheque book.”
He added: “HS2 was once a vision, perhaps… but is now an out-dated nonsense, fully 52 years after Japan first started operating high speed railways in 1964. By 2033, when HS2 is planned to finally limp in to Manchester and Leeds – but not actually connect them to each other – there will zero competitive advantage to Britain of having a 69-year- old system, fundamentally constrained by the technological limits first encountered by Stephenson and Brunel in the 1830s and 1840s.”