By Maximilian Clarke
Doubts over the viability of the proposed High Speed 2 rail link suggest the project would not be worth the money that the government should not pursue, the Adam Smith Institute concluded in their latest report.
The report, High speed fail: Assessing the case for High Speed 2, questions the veracity of the scheme’s estimated £50bn price tag, and adds that the purported environmental benefits are very weak , and will not make any net difference for 30 years.
The HS1 link connecting St Pancras to the continent via the Channel Tunnel was also examined, with the Institute citing the project’s £5.7bn cost compared to the £2.1bn it sold for. Passenger estimates were also grossly overestimated. If HS2 were like HS1, the result would be “a fiscal catastrophe for the government.” The report’s author, Nigel Hawkins, also notes the heavy price tag will detract from other and more necessary forms of rail investment that would deliver more meaningful and rapid benefits to transport and to business.
Adding to the evidence piling up against HS2’s validity is the fact that only two high-speed rail lines on the planet do not rely on taxpayer subsidies.
Further, the £17bn required to extend the line to Birmingham may shave 30 minutes from the journey time but is unlikely to yield the dramatic increases in passenger flow and business between the Capital and Birmingham.
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