Report slams HS2 as 'over budget' and 'money better spent upgrading existing networks'

The report commissioned by New Economics Foundation has hit out at HS2, stating nearly 40% of the benefits of the scheme will be for London, with only paltry returns in other provinces around the UK.
The report commissioned by New Economics Foundation has hit out at HS2, stating nearly 40% of the benefits of the scheme will be for London, with only paltry returns in other provinces around the UK.

The report commissioned by New Economics Foundation has hit out at HS2, stating nearly 40% of the benefits of the scheme will be for London, with only paltry returns in other provinces around the UK.

The report hits out at HS2's London centric focus, and claims that it will only serve to reinforce existing regional imbalances when compared to the capital.

Is suggests that the rail service would 'widen the North/South divide'.

A report from the New Economics Foundation found that 40% of the benefits of the controversial project would go to London and that the £56bn budget would be better spent on upgrading the existing network and smaller-scale local projects.

In recent months, there has been growing speculation that the scheme could be scrapped, or limited between London and Birmingham.

Local Councillor for Buckingham, Warren Whyte, said: "“The business case for HS2 has always been less than convincing and I continue to campaign against this white elephant.

"Without any hint of a stop mid-way, there is absolutely no benefit to Buckinghamshire at all.

"As costs seem to continue to spiral, I am grateful for all the residents who supported this week’s petition to HS2 chief executive, who was too cowardly to receive the petition”

Andrew Pendleton, the director of policy at the NEF and one of the report’s authors, said: “Investment in the UK’s railways is urgently needed, but HS2 is trickle-down transport policy.

"It will be used by the wealthiest travellers, intensify the north-south investment divide and is a standalone project that simply does not integrate well enough into the existing network. It’s an expensive answer in search of a question."

Estimates for building the line have increased by two-thirds since 2011 after taking account of inflation, from £33.3bn to £55.8bn.

The report concluded that the £56bn budget would be better spent on upgrading the rest of the rail network and small-scale local projects as part of a comprehensive rail strategy.

Rather than spend more than £50bn on HS2, the report said ministers should consider alternative uses of the money including:

-Full electrification of much of the northern rail network.

-The reopening of the trans-Pennine Woodhead line between Manchester and Sheffield to provide a fourth east-west link in the north.

-A Bradford Crossrail to link the two lines that terminate in the city and put it at the centre of northern rail.

-The full electrification of the Midland and Great Western lines.

-The creation of more four-track sections on the three core, north-south mainlines and the building of bridges to take slower, regional lines over intercity tracks to speed up long distance journeys.

Stop HS2 Campaign Manager Joe Rukin added:

“Since day one, we have always said HS2 is nothing more than a fast train for fat cats, and that in line with every single piece of international evidence, far from being a magic wand to cure the North-South divide it would make it worse and reinforce the economic dominance of London.”

“Whilst some proponents pretend that construction has already started on HS2, it has still not received notice to proceed from Government.

"So whilst this white elephant can still be but out of its misery, HS2 Ltd themselves seem determined to cause as much damage and - besides paying people for their land and businesses -spend as much money as possible to try and convince politicians it is too late to realise the error of their ways.”

The NEF report was commissioned by the environmental campaign group Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland, which has opposed HS2.

Representing residents from Steeple Claydon, Charlie Clare said:

“HS2 Ltd are massively behind schedule and there are no designs, no contractors and no costings for the proposed work at Steeple Claydon.

"Indeed, none of the proposed line has got a final design or cost as of yet and the whole project is already over budget and well behind schedule. The whole thing is in complete chaos, and no more work should start until the Government give HS2 Ltd notice to proceed.”

An HS2 spokesperson said:

“It’s not true to say HS2 won’t benefit the Midlands and the North. HS2 will service 25 stations from Scotland to the South East, representing around half of the UK population.

"All along the route local economic plans are being developed that ensure the whole country will benefit.

"Connecting the Midlands Engine to the Northern Powerhouse will unleash the economic potential of the country, and you only need to look at Birmingham to see the level of investment that HS2 invites.”