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Government’s High Speed rail decision is a grossly expensive mistake

The government’s decision to plough ahead with its High Speed rail plans is set to be a £32bn disaster. A recently-released report by the Institute of Economic Affairs found that:

  • The cost of HS2 will require a contribution of £1,000 per Income Tax payer
  • Significant environmental and social costs are not included in the government’s assessment of the economic case, with several areas likely to be affected by ‘planning blight’.
  • HS2 is likely to create demand for additional high-cost, taxpayer-funded transport capacity, particularly at the Euston terminus
  • HS2’s time-saving claims are based on flawed assumptions and are not credible.
  • The ‘green’ credentials of the scheme are highly questionable. At 225mph, the trains will consume disproportionate levels of power via the National Grid.

Commenting on the government’s decision to proceed with the project, Dr Richard Wellings, Deputy Editorial Director at the IEA and co-author of High Speed 2: the next government project disaster?, said:

“The government is ploughing ahead with a hugely expensive project whose economic case is flawed, whose time-savings claims are dubious and whose environmental case is highly suspect. After having made such political capital out of opposing a third runway at Heathrow, one can only assume the government is forging ahead in the face of such criticism as a way of saving face.

“This project will do nothing to bridge the North-South divide and will instead burden the ever-hammered taxpayer with the task of funding what is a classic white elephant. The government should make one last effort to reconsider its position before it saddles the nation with a high-speed disaster.”

Notes to editors

  1. To arrange an interview with Dr Richard Wellings, Deputy Editorial Director at the Institute of Economic Affairs and co-author of the report, please contact Nick Hayns, Communications Officer, 020 7799 8900 or
  2. A copy of the report, High Speed 2: the next government project disaster?, can be downloaded for free by clicking here.
  3. The mission of the Institute of Economic Affairs is to improve understanding of the fundamental institutions of a free society by analysing and expounding the role of markets in solving economic and social problems. The IEA is a registered educational charity and independent of all political parties.

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