Belfast Telegraph

High Speed 2 rail project 'should be scrapped'

The High Speed 2 rail project should be scrapped as it is likely to be delayed and over budget, a ccording to a think-tank.

The north-south rail link will be poor value for money and has a flawed business case, the TaxPayers' Alliance claimed.

But the Department for Transport (DfT) insisted that the case for the scheme is "absolutely clear".

Phase one of HS2 is expected to be completed by around 2026 and will reduce journey times between London and Birmingham by 32 minutes.

A second Y-shaped phase, taking the line to north-east and north-west England and beyond, is due to be completed by around 2032/33.

The TaxPayers' Alliance claimed the development of autonomous cars would make the project "obsolete" even before the trains begins to operate.

It suggested that the £55.7 billion budget is set to rise to at least £88 billion, and described the timetable for construction as "far from certain".

Jonathan Isaby, chief executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: " HS2 is a wasteful vanity project which is unlikely to be completed on schedule and will cost taxpayers a fortune.

"The new Prime Minister should now be pursuing bold and imaginative policies to boost economic growth and increase productivity - and that positive approach must include scrapping HS2, which has cost taxpayers far too much already.

"Ministers should instead be embarking on more worthwhile infrastructure projects that will cost less and deliver far better value."

A DfT spokesman said: " The case for HS2 is absolutely clear. It will create jobs and skills now and will help spread opportunity and growth in the longer-term and bring our country closer together.

"The economic benefit of HS2 has been recognised by MPs of all parties and is strongly supported by Northern and Midlands cities.

"The National Audit Office has confirmed HS2 is on track and the Transport Select Committee also said it is confident the scheme is the only practical way to significantly increase rail capacity.

"We keep a tough grip on costs and are on schedule to deliver the scheme on time and budget."