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'Poor value' HS2 should be scrapped, argues think-tank

A ‘free market’ think-tank has warned the government’s planned high speed rail route could cost in excess of £80 billion and has called for it to be dumped

The Institute of Economic Affairs has said the descision to build HS2 is not justified after analysis of the costs and benefits of the system.

The controversial HS2 network was given the go-ahead in January. At the time the project was expected to cost £32.7 billion, but the report released today (19 August) suggests this figure is more likely to be around £80 billion.

The report has suggested government lobbying is to blame for this uprise in costs.

Richard Wellings, author of the report, said: ‘It’s 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.  

‘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 proposed new HS2 route will initially connect London to Birmingham, before going on to reach Leeds and Manchester.

The first phase of construction, the line from London to Birmingham, is expected to open in 2026, followed in 2032-33 by legs to Manchester, Leeds and Heathrow.

The route has previously been slammed, with a raft of legal challenges being mounted against the government by HS2 Alliance.

The former chief executive of Union Railways John Armitt said there was a ‘risk that HS2 will not happen, back in July.

Readers' comments (5)

  • I've commented on this subject before with the same recurring theme, but as always, with zero feedback; and possibly because any architectural readership portal is not really the place to discuss visionary/budgetary transportation matters, i.e. for what is ultimately in political hands or in other words influenced and controlled by democracy and law respectively!

    I've therefore commented on the IEA's site itself, perhaps likewise too wishfully.

    My notion/argument is that economic growth can indeed be possible through lateral and inventively long-term thinking. My opinion is that the 10 or so post industrial cities, scrabbling for a cut, will be better off (and more focussed) being proximate rather than engulfed/smothered by such an international infrastructure.

    Railways cannot work internationally - on a per city basis - in the same way that airports can. The sooner that we can comprehend this - the embarrassment that says otherwise - the better!

    The Monopoly that we’re playing simply needs to improve, et viola: to be truly capitalising! The impetus to capitalise is there, on an expectantly irrational and dysfunctional basis as per the above report’s findings, but the sense to capitalise isn't, it's helplessly absent as yet...

    Here’s a link to what I've posted on the IEA site, see comment #2:

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  • Oh, almost forgot to say: my IEA comment - treading old territory - is all about engaging two of our newest cities. So do have a gander although I've mentioned it all before of course on previous article threads.

    By celebrating our newest cities, we might perchance begin to celebrate our older ones in better ways!

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  • Joined up thinking and rational thought are not within the purview of politicians.
    A grasp of basic arithmetic would tell you all you need to know.
    It is my view that all politicians should be given an honorary title; FPAK (Failed Plasticine At Kindergarten).
    We already have a rail line and we (the government) want to expend £80 billion, which will probably be £160 billion, when we are desperate for energy, sewage, medical facilities, police, housing, ad infinitum.

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  • Would it not be more strategic to spend this money on starting to upgrade the entire train networks infrastructure to allow double decker trains increasing the networks capacity.

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  • Would it not be more strategic to spend this money on starting to upgrade the entire train networks infrastructure to allow double decker trains increasing the networks capacity.

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