Opposition grows against high-speed rail 'vanity project'

The multi-billion high-speed rail link project is an "expensive white elephant" and should be scrapped, an alliance of business leaders, politicians and economists said today.

In a letter to The Daily Telegraph, the 21 signatories dismissed the scheme as an unaffordable "vanity project" that will cost each family over £1,000.



They said it would be wrong to spend in excess of £30million on a "train set that only a minority of fortunate passengers will use", claiming the money should be pumped into the faltering economy.



The alliance, which includes Lord Wolfson, the chief executive of Next and the Tories' competitiveness adviser and Lord Lawson, a former chancellor, wrote: "An extremely expensive white elephant isn't what the economy needs.



"If the Government want to encourage growth, there are better ways to get Britain growing and make us more competitive than getting each family to pay over £1,000 for a vanity project that we cannot afford."



The government-planned scheme, known as HS2, will see a new 200mph train line connect London and Birmingham and eventually reach to Leeds and Manchester and Glasgow.



Supporters say the link, which will cut through areas of Buckinghamshire and Warwickshire, will generate "massive economic benefits", but it has faced mass opposition from communities who will be affected by the upheaval.



The group of chief executives, top economists and senior Conservatives said a fast and frequent service to Birmingham and Manchester already existed with trains running at up to 125mph.



They added: "There are better options to increase capacity more affordably and reduce overcrowding more quickly than HS2, which will take decades to complete.



"Stretched commuter trains and congested roads are a bigger issue than the journey time to London."



Other signatories included Matthew Sinclair, director of the TaxPayers' Alliance and Mark Littlewood, the director-General of the Institute of Economic Affairs.



Responding to the letter, Transport Secretary Philip Hammond said: "I understand that this is a controversial project, particularly for many of those who live along the line of the route, but the Government's job is to balance local objections against the national interest. We believe that the best way to create jobs and growth is to invest in Britain's future.



"This is a big project, but the cost will be spread over 15 years and we will generate more than £2 of direct benefits for every £1 of cost - as well as major strategic benefits to the wider economy. That is why so many British businesses have already given our high speed rail (HSR) plans their overwhelming backing."



He went on: "HSR is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform the way we travel in the 21st century and would help build a modern economy, fit for the future. Countries across Europe and Asia are already pressing ahead with ambitious plans for HSR. Britain cannot afford to be left behind.



"As any regular rail passenger will tell you, our railways are increasingly crowded, and more and more people are having to stand. We need to invest in new lines and new trains. Sticking our heads in the sand, as these people seem to wish, is simply not an option."

News
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete today
News
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
Life and Style
The new Windows 10 Start Menu
tech
Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey
comedyFirst national survey reveals Britain’s comedic tastes
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Travel
Bruce Chatwin's novel 'On the Black Hill' was set at The Vision Farm
travelOne of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
Sport
footballManchester City 1 Roma 1: Result leaves Premier League champions in danger of not progressing
Arts and Entertainment
Gay and OK: a scene from 'Pride'
filmsUS film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
News
i100
Life and Style
Magic roundabouts: the gyratory system that has excited enthusiasts in Swindon
motoringJust who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Arts and Entertainment
Hilary North's 'How My Life Has Changed', 2001
booksWell it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Commercial Litigation NQ+

Very Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: NORTH HAMPSHIRE NQ to MID LEVEL - An e...

MANCHESTER - SENIOR COMMERCIAL LITIGATION -

Highly Attractive Pakage: Austen Lloyd: MANCHESTER - A highly attractive oppor...

Senior Marketing Manager - Central London - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (Campaigns, Offlin...

Head of Marketing - Acquisition & Direct Reponse Marketing

£90000 - £135000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Marketing (B2C, Acquisition...

Day In a Page

Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?