18 Aug 2013

HS2 cost ‘will double to £80bn’

Twice the cost and disruptive to half a million people. Two blows to the government’s flagship High Speed 2 rail link between Birmingham and London.

The cost of a high speed rail link between London and Birmingham will be almost double the £43bn expected, and the scheme “defies economic logic”, said a think-tank in a report to be published tomorrow.

The right-wing Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) has calculated that legal challenges to the route of the new train line, associated regeneration costs and forced changes to the route will push costs up to £80bn.

The government has already raised the budget for the project by £8bn in June, up from £34.5bn to £42.6bn. Construction on the train line – a key part of this government’s infrastructure investment – is due to start in March 2017.

“Policymakers have apparently defied economic logic by prioritising HS2” Richard Wellings, report author

Authored by Richard Wellings, the report also argues that the economic benefits of the super fast train will not be as great as expected.

“Even the government’s own estimates of the costs and benefits suggest the scheme is poor value for money compared with alternative investments in transport infrastructure. HS2 will be heavily loss-making in commercial terms – hence the requirement for massive taxpayer support.”

The right-wing think-tank has several times spoken out against the public infrastructure spending, hammering the project in a series of reports over the past two years, arguing that politicians are putting money into the project for ideological reasons and votes, rather than an economic analysis.

Read more: FactCheck: Why the numbers don’t add up on HS2


A second hit at the HS2 project published today by the Mail on Sunday is research by the Campaign to Protect Rural England revealing that half a million people will be disrupted by the building work on the HS2 line, with villages 25 miles away from the line suffering from road jams and congestion.

The lorries and construction vehicles needed to build the line will disrupt rural roads over a long period of time. And once up and running, noise from the 225mph trains will disrupt villages in the corridor that will pass through Buckinghamshire, Warwickshire and the West Midlands.

‘Huge economic boost’

A Department for Transport spokesman dismissed the IEA report and said the the government was committed to maintaining the project within its budget and that the train line would “provide a huge economic boost which will generate a return on investment that will continue paying back for generations to come.”

He said:

“Without it the key rail routes connecting London, the Midlands and the North will be overwhelmed. HS2 will provide the capacity needed in a way that will generate hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions of pounds worth of economic benefits.”