Pressure grows to dump “£80bn” HS2 rail plans

Grant Prior 11 years ago
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Pressure is growing on the Government to dump its HS2 high speed rail plans as economic experts predict the cost of the project could soar to £80bn.

The figure represents £3,000 for every household in the country.

Research from the Institute of Economic Affairs warns that lobbying for new links to the current route will nearly double the current estimated cost of £43bn.

The High-Speed Gravy Train: Special Interests, Transport Policy and Government Spending report also warns that HS2 will divert funds from high-return transport projects that could have delivered over £300bn of benefits.

The additional £30bn in costs comes from lobbying that will mean:

  • Additional infrastructure – for example, various new rail links, tram lines and road upgrades that will now be given the green light to cope with the additional pressure on infrastructure along the HS2 route.
  • Design changes such as extra tunnelling to ‘buy off’ opposition. Critics have already claimed an extra £600m has been added to the project to keep the route away from towns in George Osborne’s constituency.
  • Taxpayer-subsidised regeneration schemes around the new stations and in towns that are bypassed by the line.

The institute wants the government to cancel HS2 and invest the cah in transport schemes with a better return.

Report author, Dr Richard Wellings, said: “It’s time the government abandoned its plans to proceed with HS2. The evidence is now overwhelming that this will be unbelievably costly to the taxpayer while delivering incredibly poor value for money.

“It’s shameful that at a time of such financial difficulty for many families the government is caving in to lobbying from businesses, local councils and self-interested politicians more concerned with winning votes than governing in the national interest.”

A Department for Transport spokesman said: “HS2 is absolutely vital for this country, providing a huge economic boost which will generate a return on investment that will continue paying back for generations to come.

“Without it, the key rail routes connecting London, the Midlands and the North will be overwhelmed.

“HS2 will provide the capacity needed in a way that will generate hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions of pounds worth of economic benefits.

“The government is committed to managing the cost within the budget we have set for the project and to securing maximum value for money for the taxpayer, while also ensuring that preparations are properly made for the most significant infrastructure investment the UK has seen in modern times.”

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