£15bn on 100 road schemes, £50bn plus on one rail scheme

Today’s news headlines are full of the £15bn which the Government are planning to spend on roads over the next few years.

While £15 bn is a headline grabbing figure, it is a third of the cost of HS2, which currently is costed at £50 bn (or a mere £43bn if you ignore the cost of the trains).

And significant parts of the project have already dropped out of the price tag: the link to HS1, the link to Heathrow. Euston station, where changes will be needed, is in a state of limbo: we expect that when the next set of plans are put forward, they budget for HS2 will be increased to pay for them.

The road schemes announced today are across the country, from smallish schemes, to a bigger schemes for long distance travellers. A key difference between these schemes and HS2 is that people close to them will be able to use them.

With so few stations, people affected will have to travel significant distances just to access HS2.

For example If you are near Bicester, and affected by HS2, you would have to travel an hour north to Birmingham to the nearest HS2 station. If you are near Bicester and affected by plans for the suggested “expressway link between Oxford and Cambridge via Milton Keynes” there will be junctions near you that you would be able to use.

Finally, the capital costs for HS2 do not stop at £50bn. Much of the recent publicity coming out of Department for Transport is about the need for other spending related to HS2. To build the transport infrastructure to get people to the HS2 stations – and that will be necessary but is not included in the £50bn.

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