Debate: Is HS2 high speed rail link a waste of taxpayers' money?

Share
Related Topics

 

What's going on?

Details of the next phase of the controversial HS2 high-speed rail link have been unveiled in a move Prime Minister David Cameron said would boost Britain's stagnant economy.

Today's announcement details the northern extension of the already-planned London to Birmingham HS2 line as far as Manchester and Leeds.

The new rail link is designed to cut journey times, ease overcrowding and boost regional business, and officials say the project, which is expected to cost £32.7 billion, will create at least 100,000 jobs. But does England really need this new service or could the money be spent better elsewhere?

Case for: Investing in our future

The number of short, medium and long term benefits from HS2 are almost too many to mention. Short: create employment at a time when it's desperately needed; boost economic growth. Medium: encourage businesses to start investing in areas that have long been neglected. Long: fundamentally rebalance Britain, a country which for far too long has been overly dependent on the economy of London and the South East. If Britain is going to compete on the international stage in the 21st century, it needs infrastructure to match. Better transport links are a fundamental part of that, and not just because the trains will be fast and shiny. HS2 will also reduce the strain on our over-congested roads, and connect millions more people to our aviation network. The short-term investment will be more than made back.

Case against: No boost

Considered from any angle, this looks to be a white elephant, and moreover one that will trample across hundreds of miles of English countryside and heritage. Since ticket prices are likely to be too expensive for most to use the service, HS2's main beneficiairies will be business-people, who, among other perks, will be able to get to Birmingham 20 minutes faster than before. Well forgive me for not popping the champagne. As comedian Jeremy Hardy put it, another way for suits to get somewhere 20 minutes sooner is "take an earlier train". Most distressing of all, the cost to the taxpayer of this project is immense - over £1,000 per household - and cost-benefit forecasts have been revised downwards FOUR times, suggesting HS2 will not defibrillate our economy as promised. As for regenerating the North, that too seems a mirage. The engine of this disaster is politics; common and economic sense were thrown out the window long ago.

  • Get to the point

England urgently needs HS2

Read Next
A memorial to the1982 war between Great Britain and Argentina in Buenos Aires  

Argentina poses no military threat to the Malvinas Islands. So why is the UK ratcheting up tension?

Alicia Castro
 

Daily catch-up: religion, politics and roads named after dictators

John Rentoul
War with Isis: Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria's capital

War with Isis

Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria
Scientists develop mechanical spring-loaded leg brace to improve walking

A spring in your step?

Scientists develop mechanical leg brace to help take a load off
Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
The UK horticulture industry is facing a skills crisis - but Great Dixter aims to change all that

UK horticulture industry facing skills crisis

Great Dixter manor house in East Sussex is encouraging people to work in the industry by offering three scholarships a year to students, as well as generous placements
Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head

Hack Circus: Technology, art and learning

Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head. Rhodri Marsden meets mistress of ceremonies Leila Johnston
Sevenoaks is split over much-delayed decision on controversial grammar school annexe

Sevenoaks split over grammar school annexe

If Weald of Kent Grammar School is given the go-ahead for an annexe in leafy Sevenoaks, it will be the first selective state school to open in 50 years
10 best compact cameras

A look through the lens: 10 best compact cameras

If your smartphone won’t quite cut it, it’s time to invest in a new portable gadget
Paul Scholes column: Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now

Paul Scholes column

Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now
Why Michael Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Why Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Manchester United's talented midfielder has played international football for almost 14 years yet, frustratingly, has won only 32 caps, says Sam Wallace
Tracey Neville: The netball coach who is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

Tracey Neville is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

The former player on how she is finding time to coach both Manchester Thunder in the Superleague and England in this year's World Cup
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?