Today, Lord Deighton has published a report from the HS2 Growth Taskforce which admits that HS2 will not deliver jobs and growth without additional work and investment having to take place. With reference to the film ‘Field of Dreams’, Lord Deighton said:
“This report makes clear that we must not take a ‘build it and they will come’ attitude to HS2. It is up to all of us to make the most of this unique opportunity.”
This is despite the fact that at the Public Accounts Committee last summer, Chris Heaton-Harris MP noted this has been the exact attitude from HS2 Ltd, saying “The HS2 business model is from ‘Field of Dreams’ If you build it, they will come!”.
Deighton, who like Sir David Higgins was involved in the London Olympics, which came in at a cost four times the original budget of £2.4bn, admits in his report that four years into the project, there is still no growth strategy or explanation how high-speed rail could generate local jobs, growth or regeneration.
The report also signals that there will be a reinvention of the claimed economic benefits of HS2 by the end of the year, by which time Network Rail should detail the service cuts which they intend to implement to existing services after HS2 is built.
Stop HS2 Campaign Manager Joe Rukin said:
“Lord Deighton has said there shouldn’t be an ‘if you build it, they will come’ attitude to HS2, but that is how they have been operating for the last four years. Whilst the case for HS2 only exists in a vested interest ‘Field of Dreams’, the reality of the project is a waking nightmare for the taxpayer.
“There has always been a completely false assumption that high-speed rail will deliver jobs, regeneration and growth, without any evidence to back this up. At least we can now praise Lord Deighton for accepting that this is the case. The reality is that if high speed rail delivered jobs, regeneration and growth, then the Government would not have been forced to announce a new London commuter dormitory town for Ebbsfleet this week, and if being a rail hub did the same, Crewe would already be one of the most prosperous places in the country. All that has been announced today is that there is going to be more spin to convince a sceptical public that HS2 is not the vanity project it clearly is.”
Penny Gaines, Chair of Stop HS2 said:
“Stop HS2 have said right from the start that simply building a fast train to London is not going to regenerate the areas in the North and Midlands which need it. It’s always been clear that creating regeneration would take many more billions than the current £50 billion price tag of HS2.”
“A wide variety of organisations have criticised HS2 for having unclear objectives. If the objective is regeneration, then building a fast train to London should have been assessed against other schemes. Instead the government has always taken the attitude that they are determined to build HS2, so now they are trying to figure out how to stop it being a monumental folly.”