In a recent written question, Cheryl Gillam, MP for Amersham, asked how much had been spent on HS2 so far.
The answer comes to a shocking quarter of a billion pounds – £253.23 million to be exact.
However, this huge sum is not even 1% of the cost of building HS2 to Leeds and Manchester – that will be a minimum of £34 billion just for the track. HS2 trains and the infrastructure needed to get people to the stations will add to the total cost to the taxpayer.
As Cheryl Gillam writes on her website
“I was shocked to find out that over a quarter of billion pounds of taxpayers’ money has been spent on this project before even a single piece of track has been laid.
“At a time when we are all being asked to tighten our belts it is questionable that so much money is being ploughed into a project when its benefits have not yet been proven. However, it is important to remember that, at a current estimated cost of £34 billion, the taxpayer has barely begun paying the bill for this project.”
This is profligate spending on a fast train for fat cats, at a time when ordinary people are losing much needed services, whether it’s school buses in rural areas or local libraries, cut backs to the NHS or any of a number of other schemes.
No doubt some people who want HS2 will say that we’ve spent so much, we might as well continue – but £250 million is the merest drop in the ocean compared to even the cost of the first Phase of HS2. And the whole of the first phase needs to be built if anyone is to get any benefit – so that’s another £16,000 million, and a 14 year wait for the first HS2 train to leave the station.
As Stop HS2 (and now Cheryl) have said for a long time, incremental improvements to the existing railways can bring more benefits to more people more quickly and more cheaply than HS2 will.
HS2 spending to date, table from Hansard