Latest Public Sector News

19.08.13

HS2 ‘unbelievably costly’ – IEA

HS2 costs could double, the Institute for Economic Affairs (IEA) has warned. The think tank has called for the project to be scrapped, with the money spend on more “commercially viable projects”.

The Government dismissed the claims, stating that HS2 will be delivered within its £42.6bn budget.

The IEA suggested the project could end up costing taxpayers £80bn when extra infrastructure and design changes were accounted for. The higher figure covers the cost of new trains for the route, extra tunnels “to keep voters on side”, upgrades to new road links and tram lines, and regeneration schemes around both the new stations and bypassed towns.

Author Dr Richard Wellings – who has previously advocated privatising Britain’s entire road network to raise £150bn – said: “The evidence is now overwhelming that this will be unbelievably costly to the taxpayer while delivering incredibly poor value for money.

“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.”

Last month legal challenges against HS2 were all rejected by the court. Campaigners have resolved to bring a final appeal before the Supreme Court later this year.

A Department for Transport spokesman said: “HS2 is absolutely vital for this country, providing a huge economic boost which will generate a return on investment that will continue paying back for generations to come.

“Without it, the key rail routes connecting London, the Midlands and the North will be overwhelmed. HS2 will provide the capacity needed in a way that will generate hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions of pounds worth of economic benefits.

“The Government is committed to managing the cost within the budget we have set for the project and to securing maximum value for money for the taxpayer, while also ensuring that preparations are properly made for the most significant infrastructure investment the UK has seen in modern times.”

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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