Our main conclusions and recommendations |
National transport plan
1. An investment decision on the scale of HS2
should have been made with reference to a co-ordinated transport
plan for passenger and freight traffic across all modes of transport.
Such a plan could have given full consideration to how all areas
of Great Britain and all transport users would be affected by
The cost of HS2
2. HS2 is an expensive project. The construction
of the railway and purchase of rolling stock is estimated to cost
up to £50 billion at 2011 prices, including contingency.
The net cost to the taxpayer is expected to be £31.5 billion
at 2011 prices over 60 years. If complementary projects to connect
HS2 to existing transport networks are taken into account, the
final cost would be even higher.
3. If a new railway is required, the costs could
be reduced, for example by constructing it to run at a slower
speedsay at the same speed as the French TGVand
by reducing the cost of construction closer to French levels.
Who will pay for HS2?
4. Business travellers are forecast to derive
the most benefit from the project (70 per cent of the net transport
benefits). Passengers could be charged higher fares for travelling
on HS2 to recoup more of the costs and reduce the burden on the
taxpayer, especially since many taxpayers would derive no benefit
from the project.
Demand and capacity
5. The Government's principal justification for
building HS2 is to provide capacity to meet long-term rail demand.
Inadequate information on rail usage and demand modelling makes
it difficult to determine whether this is correct. Overcrowding
appears to be caused by commuter traffic, not long-distance traffic,
and is exacerbated by inflexible pricing.
Lack of consideration of alternative rail investment
6. It is impossible to agree with the Government
that HS2 is the only solution to increase capacity on the rail
network. Additional capacity could be provided by incremental
improvements to the existing network, a new conventional railway
line, or a new high-speed line (of which HS2 is only one option).
These options have not been assessed equally, with only HS2 receiving
serious consideration by the Government.
Effect on the UK economy
7. We do not believe that the Government has
shown that HS2 is the best way of stimulating growth in the country.
While investment outside London is long overdue, evidence and
experience from other countries has suggested that London would
be the biggest beneficiary of a project such as HS2.
8. Nor has the Government considered the opportunity
cost of spending £50 billion at 2011 prices on this single
railway. How much could be achieved if that money were invested
9. The evidence we have heard suggests that investment
in regional transport links between cities outside London could
be more likely to generate significant growth in the north than
HS2. The Government should consider whether improving trans-Pennine
links, or building the northern legs of HS2 first, are higher
priorities than the southern leg of HS2.
Lack of evidence
10. The cost-benefit analysis for HS2 relies
on evidence that is out-of-date and unconvincing. The Government
needs to provide fresh, compelling evidence that HS2 will deliver
the benefits it claims.
11. We welcome the objectives the Government
has set. We fully support investment in UK rail infrastructure.
But the Government has not made a convincing case for why this
particular project should go ahead. The analysis presented to
justify the project is seriously deficient.
12. The slow progress of the High Speed Rail
(London-West Midlands) Bill through Parliament provides an opportunity
for the new Government following the 2015 General Election to
review the conclusions of this report and the questions that arise
13. In the final chapter of our report we list
the questions that the new Government should consider. The Government
must answer these questions before the High Speed Rail Bill completes
its passage through Parliament.Figure
1: Map of HS2 and improvements it will bring in journey times
on selected trips
Source: Map: ©HS2 Ltd; Journey time savings:
Strategic Case, Figure 11 (see this Figure for full listing of
journey time savings)