No HS2 means no money for anything else, warns new report.

Finally the rail industry has come out with a report to answer the HS2 nay sayers or at least those that claim the project’s £42.6bn budget would be better spent on other investments around the UK including upgrading existing lines.

The answer, according to a group of leading rail businesses and unashamed supporters of the next big thing in the industry is that the money would all but disappear with potentially a paltry (by comparison) £0.67bn making its way into rail schemes over the next 20 years.

Capacity problems will get worse, projects to improve local lines would be cancelled in favour of work to create more train paths or lengthen trains and platforms on the West and East Coast main lines. Freight would be forced to remain on the roads to be joined by more cars as people are priced off the crowded railways by higher peak time fares. And investors in the UK general economy will be frightened away by the country’s lack of confidence and its declining transport infrastructure.

And ultimately the same investment would have to be made eventually, many years later, without the ensuing benefits, and at much greater cost.

HS2 chief executive Alison Munro will be speaking and taking part in an open discussion at the ACE annual conference on 21 May. To book you place here.

The report “Great Britain: connected or not” was launched by the High Speed Rail Industry Leaders Group on Tuesday, two days before the expected publication of Lord Deighton’s HS2 Taskforce report analysing the benefits to Britain’s cities from construction of the new railway.

Organisations in the High Speed rail leaders group are: Alstom, Atkins, Bechtel, CH2MHill, Hitachi, Keolis, Parsons Brinckerhoff, Railway Industry Association, Siemens and University of Birmingham.

Report author and recognised rail authority Jim Steer of Greengauge 21 explained that the study was intended to establish what would happen if HS2 had not been built.

He batted away concerns that the group of companies involved would of course come up with results that favoured HS2 by saying they were all major businesses or organisations with reputations to protect and in depth understanding from other major schemes of the benefits new transport infrastructure, particularly rail can bring.

To read the full report click here.


The main conclusions

If the HS2 project is cancelled the most likely result will be that the Chancellor will reallocate most of the money to pay down the National Debt.

Department for Transport already receives 20% of government’s overall capital spending programme so is unlikely to be given the HS2 budget for other schemes, particularly as there are no other transport schemes of HS2’s scale to transfer the funding to.

Even if Government allocated £10bn extra over 20 years to other schemes only 20% would come to transport and of that, based on current spending splits would go to rail - £0.67bn.

Network Rail would have to reallocate more of its spending to the busiest routes, cutting back on spending elsewhere.

Passenger numbers will still rise; stations like Euston will still have to be rebuilt to cope with increased numbers.

Peak time fares will increase

People and freight will be forced on to the roads increasing congestion there.

A loss of confidence in the UK and its ability to invest.

A stifled London, unable to expand its labour markets at affordable prices.

The loss of  the best opportunity available to regenerate the cities of the Midlands and the North.

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