Media Library

  • Monday, 27 June 2016
    Economic Uncertainty Lies Ahead: The Case For HS2 is Weaker Than Ever

    LONDON, JUNE 27th, 2016: While the financial markets and the UK at large continue to digest Friday’s shock result in the EU referendum, one thing is patently clear; now is not the time for the government to press on with an ill-conceived and economically flawed infrastructure project that could end up costing over £75 billion.

    The economic instability of last Friday, specifically the plunge of the sterling and the FTSE, may be a harbinger of things to come and will almost certainly force the government to reevaluate its spending priorities in the face of a probable economic downturn. All policy areas will come under increased scrutiny and transport infrastructure will be no exception. In a piece in this morning’s FT, the newspaper argues that controversial projects such as HS2, Hinkley Point and a third runway at Heathrow could be subject to a government rethink. The piece quoted Lord Berkeley, the Labour peer and transport expert, who opined that “the priority for the government at this time will not be big sexy projects such as HS2.”

    Spending in excess of £50 billion on HS2, a high speed rail line that will predominantly serve London and not address the capacity and connectivity issues of the current rail network, makes even less sense than it did before the vote to leave the European Union. A study of the facts reveals that the environmental, business and economic case for HS2 is dubious at best and at worst a waste of precious taxpayer money that could be better allocated elsewhere.

    High speed rail has an important role to play in developing a better connected and higher capacity rail network for UK and it is high time that a viable alternative to HS2, such as HSUK, was fully explored. The HS2 project has not been fully thought through and there has been a failure of due process in arriving at the current proposals for high speed rail in this country.

    High Speed UK (HSUK), a rival scheme that costs less, delivers more and can be built quicker trumps HS2 in every aspect. It is imperative that the House of Lords, where the High Speed Rail Bill currently resides, examine alternatives to the flawed HS2 project.

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