Parliament to discuss HS2

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The UK parliament is set to discuss the proposed High Speed 2 rail link today. Larry Elliott has an article in the Guardian.

The economic case for the high-speed railway does not add up. Far better to put a fraction of its £40bn-plus cost into freight lines

The economics of HS2 suck.

Traditionally, public money is allocated using cost-benefit analysis. Whitehall estimates the costs of a project and tries to put a monetary value on the benefits. On this basis, HS2 doesn’t wash its face. The cost is high and the benefits, in many cases, are spurious.

There is a need for the UK economy to be less dominated by London but HS2, in its current form at least, looks like an expensive way of making regional imbalances worse not better.

So, the likely upshot of HS2 is that London will benefit most, the big regional hubs such as Birmingham and Leeds will get some benefit, but cities bypassed by the line will lose out.

It’s worth noting, also, that the money saved from scrapping HS2 would find its way into the economy one way or another: handing each adult a cheque for £1,000 would almost certainly provide a bigger boost to economic activity in, say, Rochdale than a new high-speed railway that ends in Manchester.

HS2 is a gravy train for the construction sector, lawyers, transport consultants, bureaucrats and the rich people who will be able to afford it. It will be the misery line for just about everybody else.


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