Stop HS2 protesters in Lichfield
Stop HS2 protesters in Lichfield

A new report has cast further doubt on the benefits of HS2.

The New Economics Foundation has said the project demand for the high speed rail line – which will cut through Lichfield and surrounding villages – has “likely been overstated”.

The controversial £33bn project is designed to link the Midlands and the North with London.

But critics have queued up to attack both the business case behind the project and the chosen route.

A Stop HS2 placard in the shape of a white elephant
A Stop HS2 placard in the shape of a white elephant

Now the New Economics Foundation think tank has questioned whether the money could be better spent elsewhere, suggesting a third of the budget would allow for an upgrade of existing lines.

“HS2 is the largest transport investment in the UK’s history,” researcher David Theiss told the BBC. “At the moment it amounts to a £33bn gamble.

“Our research shows the government is backing the wrong horse.

“Instead of pouring billions of pounds into a single line that will take 20 years to complete we should be spreading our bets on a wider range of transport investments that offer better value for money.”

Now the Stop HS2 campaign group is urging the government to re-assess the whether high speed rail is the best solution for the country.

“The clamour of concerns over the HS2 project keep getting louder and louder, but the only response we see from the majority of MPs is to stick their fingers in their ears and refuse to listen,” campaign coordinator Joe Rukin said.

“When there are so many independent analysts saying all the same things about HS2, that the case for it is flimsy at best for so many reasons, it is unbelievable that Government and MPs cannot take their job to be responsible with taxpayers money seriously.

“Independent reports after independent reports keep coming in which raise severe question marks over HS2 and the puerile way in which Government dismiss them is simply becoming tiresome. Every one of the stock arguments for HS2 has been knocked down and all they have left is to stamp their feet and say ‘I want my train set’.”

Founder of Lichfield Live and editor of the site.

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10 years ago

Let’s hope this latest report – one of many recent ones by independent organisations – tugs the many politicians’ heads out of the sand and into reality. Only one omission from this report – HS2 won’t cost £33bn – it will be way more than that by the time it’s overspent, as all large infrastructure projects tend to be.

There are better ways to improve national AND local transport than HS2. Let’s start talking about them properly instead of branding all opponents nimbies or dinosaurs

10 years ago

This report will change nothing – why should it?

Every man and his dog has had a go at HS2; most of them for very obvious reasons of self-interest and/or ideological dogma – this one is not really any different and equally flawed.

Some of the work done by NEF is very good but they got this one badly wrong

NEF blithely recommend that we follow a strategy already proven to fail; namely their apparent advise to throw several billion at upgrading existing key rail arteries – they claim this represents a better use of taxpayer funding.

Anyone care to recall the WCML debacle of the 90s – a project that started out with a forecast budget of £1.9bn, would be completed in a couple of years and herald massive capacity and reliability improvements on the line.

In fact, it ended up taking the best part of 10 years, ran 4 times over budget (eventual out turn cost was £8.9bn) and many of the planned improvements, such as ETCS signalling, were pulled when it was realised that they were incompatible with the existing classic line technology – oh and it caused untold misery to the rail travelling public for years – I know because I was one of them at the time!

All in all, a disaster and yet here we have a so called “think-tank” recommending more or less the same failed strategy – do me a favour NEF – go away and have another good think about this, frankly quite daft, idea?

Different options have been looked at – the process undertaken before deciding on the Route3 pathway for phase 1 did NOT happen on the back of a cigarette packet!

Yes, of course those residing close to the approved pathway are understandably miffed but if UK plc really wants a rail network fit for the 21st century, some NEW build lines are a mandatory element in any long-term strategy to build a network capable of hosting massively increased passenger numbers.