A report published by the Institute of Economic Affairs has been described by the Stop HS2 campaign as ‘the most scathing Independent analysis of HS2 so far.’ In the report In the report “The High-Speed Gravy Train: Special Interests, Transport Policy and Government Spending”, the IEA claim the overall bill for HS2, currently officially standing at £50.1bn, will be closer to the £80bn, echoing fears previously expressed by London Mayor, Boris Johnson.
The report also argues that £80bn spent instead on upgrading other road and rail infrastructure would produce £320bn of economic benefits. More than £30bn of extra costs are likely to come from areas including additional roads and infrastructure to service the new line and changes to the route to buy off local opposition.
Richard Wellings, the report’s author said:
“The evidence is now overwhelming that this will be unbelievably costly to the taxpayer while delivering incredibly poor value for money. It’s shameful that at a time of such financial difficulty for many families, the government is caving in to lobbying from businesses, local councils and self-interested politicians more concerned with winning votes than governing in the national interest.”
Joe Rukin, the campaign manager of the StopHS2 group said:
“The IEA’s study as the most hard-hitting attack on the project by an independent group so far. The crescendo of opposition to this project is just getting louder and louder and the Government is still not listening. The Public Accounts Committee, the National Audit Office and now the Institute of Economic Affairs have all raised concerns, and they are part of a long list of economist, rail experts and environmentalists who all say HS2 is the case for HS2 simply does not exist. These aren’t bodies with an axe to grind – they’re serious people acting in what they see as the best interests of the country.”
“We’ve long suspected that the only people pushing for this vanity project are those with vested interests. The IEA report is clear, that councils and chambers of commerce in cities which will get stations, along with the firms which will get billions of pounds from building HS2, are the only ones lobbying for HS2, and they are spending serious money doing that lobbying.”
“The Government is insane if it thinks HS2 will win votes in the North. Polling has shown that the more people find out about HS2, the stronger opposition gets. Against the rhetoric of austerity, how could anyone seriously argue for spending £50bn on official estimates on a train line which will only benefit the richest in society is the right thing to do? Even if HS2 was a sensible proposition it would be the wrong thing at the wrong time, but given it is clearly a white elephant vanity project which would do nothing but increase debt and suck more economic activity to London, it is a disgrace that it is still on the agenda. All HS2 has got going for it is political momentum and politicians too vain to admit they have got this wrong.”