Centro today challenged the findings of a report which dismisses the case for the high speed rail link between London and Birmingham.
The proposed HS2 link from the capital is vital for the future economic prosperity of the West Midlands and is essential to relieve overcrowding on the existing network which is running out of capacity, the integrated transport authority for the region said.
Work is due to start on HS2 in 2015 and will see 250mph trains taking as little as half an hour to travel between the two cities.
But a report by Chris Stokes on behalf of the pressure group Taxpayers’ Alliance says the business case for HS2 has not been made.
Mr Stokes also argues that existing services and infrastructure should be upgraded instead.
However Centro chief executive Geoff Inskip said HS2 would bring massive benefits in terms of investment and jobs for the West Midlands. He also said simply upgrading existing infrastructure to cope with demand was not an option.
A study commissioned in 2010 for Centro from KPMG showed HS2, coupled with enhancements to the rest of the local network, would bring 22,000 new jobs to the West Midlands and boost the regional economy by £1.5bn per annum.
And a KPMG report for Greengauge 21 entitled High Speed Rail in Britain: Consequences for Employment and Economic Growth said the increased tax take to Treasury from increased economic activity would be up to £6 billion per year.
“The case for HS2 cannot be overstated, it is quite simply the biggest opportunity for wealth and job creation in a generation,” Mr Inskip said.
“Thousands of new jobs will be the most fantastic boost to the economy, both locally and nationally, which in turn will bring increased prosperity.”
Mr Stokes argued that the need for new capacity could be better served with longer and more frequent trains on the existing InterCity service on the West Coast Main Line.
But an in-depth review of the existing West Coast main line between London and Birmingham by Network Rail showed the route would be full by 2026, although some say it will be much earlier than this.
Mr Inskip said: “We have, together with Network Rail, looked at that option and have categorically ruled it out. It just will not provide the capacity that we need.”
Mr Inskip said one of the major strengths of the case for HS2 is that it will release capacity on the existing network for extra services.
In the West Midlands this would allow increased service frequencies to local destinations, more regional services and completely new services such as a regular stopping train to Tamworth. He said: “We need to create more capacity on the rail network and HS2 allows us to do that.
“It follows that if we are going to build a new railway line we should take the opportunity to make that line high-speed and get all of the benefits that high-speed trains bring.
Mr Inskip said there was also an environmental case for HS2 as the carbon emissions of travel by high-speed rail were only a third of those of car travel and a quarter of travelling by air.
“I believe HS2 is going to be of benefit to everyone,” he added.
“The opportunity for major investment and network improvement in this region offered by HS2 should be welcomed by everyone who wants to see a successful and prosperous West Midlands.”