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The House of Commons Transport Committee take oral evidence today in their enquiry “Reforming public transport after the pandemic”

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Author: Sebastian Sandys

At the weekend, those well known uncooperative crusties down at the Daily Telegraph produced this handy little graphic that illustrates very well the actual cost of the proposed high-speed rail link which will cut journey times from the West Midlands to London initially, and then later from Manchester to London, Leeds to London and perhaps even one day, Sheffield to London.

In a nutshell:

High-Speed 2’s annual bill is roughly the same as the cost of upgrading the rest of the UK train network, according to figures released last week.

The project is budgeted to cost £5.2bn next year, growing to £5.8bn in 2023/24, exactly the same amount of money allocated to Network Rail.The figures, contained within Rishi Sunak’s Comprehensive Spending Review, are considerably more than the capital investment in roads and electric vehicle charging stations. Some £3.8bn will be allocated to the road investment strategy next year, rising to £4.8bn in 2023/24 – £1bn less than the cost of HS2 in that year.

These are not my figures, but those of Mark Sullivan, Chairman of CPRE West Midlands Region, who goes on to say :

“The box is notable because it gives current spending on HS2 each financial years. It is already £5.2 billion in 2020-21. Grant Shapps was pushed out in Feb 2020 (on TV and radio) to justify the spending by saying it was ‘only £ billion a year’ claiming that this is not a large sum as a proportion of all spending on transport. It is already more than that.

The Government has announced new spending of £16 billion on defence (mainly Royal Navy it seems) in four years that is £ 4 billion a year. And the cut in Overseas Aid spending from 0.7% of GDP to 0.5% is stated to save £4 billion a year. The defence spending increase had to be fought for by Johnson against the Chancellor (reportedly) and the £4 bn cut in aid spending has caused lots of comment by past Prime Ministers and Aid Ministers. That spending on HS2 is a higher sum annually than either of these figures really shows up how outlandish the thing now is, and how bad the February 2020 decision to authorise it was. “

If you haven’t written to your Member of Parliament yet….Why not?

Source: New Economic Foundation / House of Lords / Oakervee Review / Lord Berkley
Credit: Telegraph Media Group


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