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Editorial: Forget HS2, build a new airport instead

Not only does high-speed rail face a £3.3bn funding gap, it is of dubious economic impact anyway. It's time to think about how that price tag would be better spent

The National Audit Office has passed a harsh judgement on government plans for high-speed rail. Not only does the scheme face a £3.3bn funding gap, the spending watchdog says; it is of dubious economic impact anyway.

Such conclusions are no surprise. This newspaper has long argued that HS2 is a costly white elephant and that the money would be put to better use elsewhere. And where better to spend it than on an all-new airport in the Thames Estuary, to replace over-stretched Heathrow? The price tag would be similar to HS2’s, with no such question marks over the benefits.

MPs on the Transport Committee are erring back towards plans to expand Heathrow. But a third runway is just an expensive and ultimately futile stop-gap. An outward-looking, globally competitive Britain desperately needs a new hub airport. Never mind risky, unpopular HS2. Invest in Boris Island, instead.