A free-market think tank has said that the high-speed rail project, named HS2, could easily cost over £80bn, almost double the original planned budget for the project. The Institute for Economic Affairs (IEA) will expect advance requests by local councils for the building of extra infrastructure and design changes that will inevitably increase the cost of the project. The institute has expressed its view that it wanted HS2 to be scrapped and the same money spent on other transport schemes.
The firm that is contracted to carry out the production of HS2 said the scheme would create an “economic asset” and provided “significant value” to the UK economy. HS2 is intended to allow trains to run at approximately 250mph (400km/h) from London to Birmingham from 2026, with branches to Manchester and Leeds via Sheffield planned by the year 2032. Opponents of the scheme say the production will cause an unacceptable level of environmental damage, loss of homes and disruption to many communities across the country.
The IEA said in their report that’ll be released on Monday, that the cost of new trains could be almost £7.5bn. The report shows that the government will make changes to the route “to keep voters on side” and these were likely to add another £30bn to the current estimated cost of £42.6bn, which includes “contingency” money. The report said that the £30bn would be spent on new road links and upgrades, extra tunnels and other regeneration schemes among other things that they will pay for “to buy off the opposition”. It also added that the HS2 “and the add-on transport schemes will be heavily loss-making in commercial terms – hence the requirement for massive taxpayer support”.
Dr Richard Wellings, the author of the report in question, said it was now “time the government abandoned its plans to proceed with HS2. The evidence is now overwhelming that this will be unbelievably costly to the taxpayer while delivering incredibly poor value for money,” he said. 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.”
The IEA explained its opinion on why they believed the project may be pushed through, saying that the policy may have been partly followed to win votes in “response to poor electoral performance in the north of England in recent elections”.