Government should cut HS2

HS2 represents poor value for money for taxpayers

Commenting ahead of the vote on High Speed 2, Dr Richard Wellings, Head of Transport at the Institute of Economic Affairs, said:

“High Speed 2 should be at the top of the list when the government announces a new wave of spending cuts. This loss-making project will damage growth and destroy jobs, as well as increasing public debt at a time when borrowing has already reached dangerously high levels.
 
“Even the government’s own figures suggest HS2 represents poor value for money for taxpayers. The reality is far worse. The economic case for the scheme is based on a series of highly questionable assumptions, including optimistic passenger forecasts, limited competition from other routes and new technology, and the bizarre idea that business travellers can’t work on trains.
 
“£50-60 billion is a realistic estimate of the final cost of HS2, potentially leaving the average household with a tax bill of around £2,000. On top of the £34 billion already budgeted, billions more will be required to pay for the trains and for additional transport links and regeneration schemes around the new stations. MPs now have the opportunity to put the needs of taxpayers and the wider economy above the wishes of the narrow vested interests that are promoting the scheme.”

To arrange an interview with an IEA spokesperson, please contact Ruth Porter, Communications Director on 020 7799 8900 or 07751 717 781.

Notes to editors

In July 2011, the IEA published High Speed 2: the next government project disaster? The research revealed why the scheme is economically flawed and showed that taxpayers will bear a high proportion of the financial risks.

The mission of the Institute of Economic Affairs is to improve understanding of the fundamental institutions of a free society by analysing and expounding the role of markets in solving economic and social problems.
 

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