Yesterday’s Budget speech by George Osborne had some important things to say – such as the cut to beer duty. He even spoke about additional infrastructure spending: the promise of an extra £15 billion in the next Government.
But what he didn’t say was anything about HS2. The £15 billion sounds like a huge sum, but it is less than the cost of building HS2 between London and Birmingham.
To go ahead with HS2 is a major commitment, not just by the current government, but for the next four governments. With no intermediate stations on the first phase, to get any use out of HS2 means building all the tracks between London and Birmingham. That’s currently expected to cost about £17 billion: adding the section north of Birmingham roughly doubles that.
With such a commitment for this government and the next four governments, it might deserve a mention in the Chancellor’s speech. But it was strangely absent.
Even in the “Infrastructure Delivery Update“, describing the Top 40 priority projects, HS2 was not mentioned until halfway through the document: other projects, such as the privately funded Heathrow Terminal 2, and Crossrail (over 60% funded by Londoners and London businesses) were highlighted in the summary at the start.
From the document:
|High Speed Two||Work is continuing to carry out environmental impact surveys along the line of the route.|
|The announcement on Phase 2 (north of Birmingham) initial preferred route and station options was made in January 2013, in preparation for formal consultation later in the year.|
|Consultation on the draft Environmental Impact Assessment is due to launch in spring 2013.|
|Phase 2 consultation has been brought forward ahead of schedule and is due to be launched in summer 2013.|
|Deposit of a Paving Bill in Parliament to fast-track the £32 billion project.|