HS2 "heavily loss-making" claims thinktank

19 August 2013

Posted by Satvir Bhullar

The Institute for Economic Affairs (IEA) has published a report criticizing the HS2 programme.

Entitled The High Speed Gravy Train and written by Dr Richard Wellings, the report discusses the growing expense of HS2, claiming that lobbying has added £30 billion to the project, with the total said to now be nearer £80 billion.

As a result, the thinktank believes the government should stop prioritizing the project for more beneficial alternatives. It believes the scheme will divert funding from more beneficial transport options, which could bring £300 billion in benefits.

Dr 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".

He also goes on state that many of the interests may lie in winning election votes rather than looking out for the national interest.

The IEA also commented on local authority lobbyists making additional expenses in relation to HS2. This includes improving infrastructure and regeneration schemes in the towns and new stations built along the HS2 route at the expense of taxpayers' money. It is claimed the focus by lobbyists represents "concentrated interests who stand to gain from the project going ahead". Lobbying also involved the sponsoring of various events, as well as briefings and commissioned research.

Out of the almost £80 billion in costs, the IEA claims the contract for the trains will likely take up only £7.5 billion. Other expenses will include tunnel construction, signalling systems and the contracted work required for each area.

Concerns over political motives were also raised, with the IEA highlighting reasons for the Conservative party to favour HS2 over other projects - such as the plans to expand Heathrow - which were recently met with disapproval. It is also suggested that this change in focus is in a bid to improve election results in North England, where the party has experienced poor results previously.

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