By Daniel Hunter
A new report from the Institute for Economic Affairs (IEA) has concluded that the decision to build High Speed 2 (HS2) is not justified by an analysis of the costs and benefits of the scheme.
It goes on to say that even the government’s own figures suggest that HS2 represents poor value for money compared with alternative investments in transport infrastructure.
It wants HS2 to be scrapped and the money spent on other transport schemes. The company behind HS2 said the scheme would create an "economic asset" and provided "significant value".
HS2 is intended to allow trains to run at 250mph (400km/h) from London to Birmingham from 2026, with branches to Manchester and Leeds via Sheffield planned by 2032.
Opponents say the scheme will cause an unacceptable level of environmental damage, loss of homes and disruption to many communities.
The IEA said in its report, to be released on Monday, that the cost of new trains would be £7.5 billion.
And it said changes to the route "to keep voters on side" were likely to add another £30bn to the current estimated cost of £42.6bn, which includes "contingency" money. That £30 billion, it said, would come from areas including:
- New road links, tram lines and road upgrades to cope with more pressure on infrastructure along the route
- Extra tunnels and other design changes "to buy off opposition"
- Regeneration schemes around new stations as well as in towns bypassed by the line
According to the report's author, Dr Richard Wellings, it is now "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," he said.
"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."
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