Rethinking High Speed 2 Contents

Chapter 1: Introduction

“There are fast growing, infrastructure constrained cities spread across the regions of the UK, and addressing these constraints is the greatest opportunity for infrastructure to help each region to do better. Most major UK cities lag behind national productivity levels. This contrasts with large cities in many other European countries, which add to their countries’ productivity.” National Infrastructure Commission, July 20183

1.The Committee fully supports investment in British rail infrastructure. But the present plan for High Speed 2 risks spending a large sum of public money on a project which addresses the wrong priorities for the railway network. As we concluded in our 2015 report Economics of High Speed 2, “there should be no embarrassment in being prepared to revise the project: the objectives and cost are too important.”4

2.Our 2015 report raised questions about the High Speed 2 project which the Government failed to answer. This report follows up on those unanswered questions in the context of three factors which require the Government to revise the project:

3.Chapter 2 considers where rail investment should be prioritised, Chapter 3 examines the cost and appraisal of the High Speed 2 project and Chapter 4 considers how the cost of the project could be reduced.

4.Since 2015, Parliament has legislated for Phase 1 of High Speed 2. The legislation for Phase 2a had its second reading in the House of Commons in January 2018 and the legislation for Phase 2b is expected to be introduced in 2020.

3 National Infrastructure Commission, ‘National Infrastructure Assessment’, July 2018:–001_NIC-NIA_Accessible.pdf [accessed 1 May 2019]

4 Economic Affairs Committee, Economics of High Speed 2 (1st Report, Session 2014–15, HL Paper 134)

© Parliamentary copyright 2019