A new report, published today, details the costly impact to Britain if High Speed 2 is derailed. ‘Great Britain: connected or not?’, which was developed by the HSR Industry Leaders Group, outlines how failing to build HS2 will leave a clogged Britain, unable to meet its full potential, lagging behind the rest of the world in terms of infrastructure development.
The report highlights the key economic, infrastructural and social consequences of abandoning HS2:
- Only a small fraction of the funding allocated to HS2 is likely to be allocated to other transport and infrastructure projects. The most likely estimate is that just £2bn of the £42bn allocated to HS2 will be made available to the Department of Transport. Based on current spending patterns, only £0.67bn of this would potentially be reallocated to national rail.
- It would signal to potential investors Britain’s unwillingness to invest in its creaking infrastructure, putting off businesses looking to develop in the UK.
- It would be detrimental to business growth, with the loss of enhanced productivity associated that HS2 brings through shorter and more predictable business connections and wider labour markets.
- The opportunity to regenerate the Midlands and North of England would be missed. HS2 is expected to transform development in major cities, and drive private sector investment.
- Losing HS2 would lead to a loss of investment in the national workforce and be the start of a brain drain of highly skilled engineers leaving the UK to pursue other opportunities. HS2 is predicted to create 20,000 new jobs in construction alone.
- There will be a stagnating effect on Britain’s economy, with key regions becoming increasingly disconnected as congestion clogs the overloaded national transport system.
- Without HS2, it will not be possible to accommodate any significant growth in rail freight capacity. This will not only affect UK business, but will lead to greater levels of overcrowding on the UK’s road network.
- Past experience suggests cancellation now would most likely lead to the same project being revived, and built at greater cost later on. Crossrail and the Third London Airport prove the point.
The HSR Industry Leaders Group, comprised of world leading organisations in rail and infrastructure development, has launched the report to draw attention to the consequences of walking away from HS2.
Jim Steer, director of greengauge 21 and founding member of HSRILG, said: “HS2 is a project that will build a bright future for Great Britain. With the Bill for the first stage of the route now before Parliament, we felt it important to set out the hugely positive difference this project will make. To bring to life its contribution, we considered this question: what would be the most likely outcome should it be cancelled? Thinking this through it became clear to all of us that walking away from HS2 is a risk that Britain just cannot afford to take.”
Steve Scrimshaw, managing director, Rail Systems UK at Siemens, said: “HS2 is about so much more than reducing journey times between London and Birmingham. It is about a once in a generation, transformational opportunity to reconnect Britain and revitalise our busy rail network. The advantages of this cannot be overstated and this report points to some of those. That’s why we, along with other business leaders and major employers, fully support HS2 and call on Britain to push forward in developing a world-class high-speed network and take advantage of the benefits it will bring to our nation.”