Tuesday 26 September 2023

There's still time to scrap HS2

Paul Johnson from the IFS was on Times Radio yesterday talking about HS2. 

“This whole thing just makes me want to weep. It makes me despair. I mean, the original sin, as it were, was agreeing to do it in the first place. It was obviously going to be hugely expensive, with relatively little gain from it relative to pretty much anything else you could have done with the railway or transport system, whether that’s making rail connections across the North vastly better or actually building a bunch of bypasses and improving the roundabouts in the road network. 

“And we knew that, that this was not the best way you could spend that amount of money. We also know how difficult we find it to build these projects. 

“So the original sin was doing it in the first place. Now the question is, once we have started and we’ve already spent many billions on it, what’s the best way forward from here? And there you just need to take a view as to how much additional benefit you get from taking it into Euston or taking it beyond Birmingham to Manchester. 

“And actually, that’s where I don’t know whether they’re making the right decision, because the question is, once you’ve got the bit from Acton to Birmingham, how much extra value do you get from the connection to Euston? And I suspect relative to the cost of the total project, probably quite a lot. And the same, I suspect, goes from the bit from Birmingham to Manchester. 

“So it rather looks like we’re going to totally waste the money on this in producing a rail at the cost of tens of billions, which will get you from Birmingham to central London less quickly than you can do at the moment.”

I have to concur. In fact, I said something similar on GB News over the weekend. The best time to scrap HS2 was 13 years ago. The next best time is now.

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