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27.08.13

Directors label HS2 ‘grand folly’

Only 27% of directors believe HS2 will prove value for money, the Institute of Directors has found. It’s the latest in a string of criticisms of the project, following comments by the Institute of Economic Affairs and former transport secretary Alistair Darling.

A survey of 1,300 members of the IoD raised concerns that HS2 will benefit London more than the regions, and 70% thought the route would have no impact on their businesses.

The IoD contended a Government claim that HS2 would increase economic productivity by reducing commutes, with 48% of members stating that they worked for at least half of their train journey.

Legislation for HS2 is set to be introduced this year, with construction of Phase one beginning in 2017.

IoD director general Simon Walker said: “Station upgrades, inter-city improvements, tunnels, electrification and capacity improvements should all be considered alternatives. It is time for the Government to look at a thousand smaller projects instead of falling for one grand folly.

“Some of the specific claims that the government has used to support its economic case for the project have been challenged by our members, who by and large do not feel that their business will benefit.”

But a Department for Transport spokeswoman said: “We need to build HS2 to free up valuable space for passengers and freight because without it, our existing rail network will be full by the mid-2020s at a cost to passengers and businesses up and down country.

“The scheme is forecast to generate more than £50bn of benefits for the economy but we know we must maximise every economic benefit HS2 has to offer.”

Tell us what you think – have your say below, or email us directly at opinion@publicsectorexecutive.com

Image c. HS2 Ltd

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