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Government rejects Lords’ HS2 criticism

In its official response to the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee’s report into the Economics of High Speed 2, the government has strongly rejected the claims that a “convincing case” for the £50bn HS2 railway has not been made. 

The government said HS2 will have a transformational effect, supporting growth and increased productivity across the country, particularly in the north. It also stated that best upgrade alternative to HS2 would only provide “one more peak hour train path compared to the current timetable”. 

It added that the economic case for HS2 is clear as the central case benefit cost ratio (BCR) for the full Y-network is 2.3, including wider economic impacts - higher than for the Jubilee Line Extension and Thameslink improvement project when they were approved. 

“HS2 will create nearly 25,000 construction jobs and support up to 100,000 jobs around the stations,” said the response. “The Core Cites group suggest this figure could be as much as 400,000 jobs.” 

Concerns had been raised in March that there had not been enough evidence that HS2 would solve capacity issues, but the government said: “The West Coast Main line is now the busiest mixed use rail line in Europe. Despite a £9bn renewal and upgrade completed in 2008, the line is effectively full in terms of train paths, which restricts what services we can run and is impacting performance on both commuter and intercity services. Long distance services achieve around 85% punctuality, around four percentage points worse than the average for other long-distance services. 

“HS2 will deliver the step change in capacity we need to keep this vital artery flowing. The new high speed infrastructure will also improve reliability, giving passengers greater confidence when planning their trips.” 

The government added that without action, seating capacity will be a real issue – even if passenger growth rates turn out to be lower than we have seen over the last 20 years. 

It also stated that the full Y HS2 network represents high value for money and will deliver over £2 of benefits for every £1 invested. On top of this, the business case assumes HS2 will not charge premium fares, and shows that HS2 is economically viable without them. 

To read the full response, click here

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email


Les F   08/07/2015 at 00:00

The government reveals its weakness by answering a question different from the one asked by their lordships. New tracks will almost certainly be needed northwards from London but we all know that HS2 is not the answer. It offers connection to London for a few cities while damaging the existing network. It costs too much because of excessive tunnelling and by trying to go both sides of the Pennines. It offers nothing towards UK's committed 80% reduction in CO2 emissions. It's a joke, and the sooner the government realise the game is up for HS2, the sooner we can go back to square one and design something actually worth building.

Alan   10/07/2015 at 15:54

We do not need to have an HS2. Where does this government get their job figures from, as what happens when its completed, this so called 25,000 jobs will be no more. Spend the money on getting Britain out of debt first and get priorities to your country sorted. i am sick of these people acting on the UKs behalf,when they ruin land by building a fast train service,that many people will be unable to use due to cost,but only people with money can use. Open lines closed by Beeching,electrify more lines and buy new stock for the whole country and not just London.

Jond   13/07/2015 at 20:43

HS2 is required, most people who comment know nothing about Railways. The congestion on existing Railways, yes much of it now due to closures of the Beeching Era. However many of those lines have been built on despite devious false talking politicians promises that they would not be. The only solution now is HS2. The only 2 things wrong with it are:- 1 it is too expensive 2 it is taking too long to be built. 1 could be resolved by reducing 2. JonD

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