Four reasons why HS2 is on the wrong track

Photo credit:   Яick Harris

January 28, 2013 // By: David Theiss

Today the government have detailed plans for the northern sections of HS2, their £33bn high speed rail project. The message is clear: ‘We are in an economic mess. We have a plan to fix it. HS2, despite all the noise from naysayers, will be the engine by which we pump the lifeblood of economic opportunity to poor performing regions.’

Like the litany of statements and speeches extolling the HS2 idea over the past 23 months, we will be told that we cannot afford not to go-ahead with construction. Like the previous statements, the promise of HS2 will be long on platitudes and short on evidence.

Independent analysis by nef has demonstrated that the case for HS2 is far from certain. Our work has raised four main concerns:

While we fully recognise the possibility that HS2 could help transform Britain’s rail network, there is little robust evidence that constructing another train line, even one accommodating very fast trains, will have transformative economic effects.  

At a time of serious economic difficulty the role of infrastructure investment is clear. But, before going full steam ahead with HS2, it is essential that we properly consider what else we could achieve for the economy with £33bn. With so many scarce resources hanging the balance and the taxpayer picking up the check, can the Government afford to be wrong about HS2? 

Issues

Transport & Infrastructure

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