We are forgetting the cost of HS2
Over successive weeks (January 20 and January 27) Kenilworth resident Alan Marshall has made passionate attempts in the KWN to defend the Government’s decision to press ahead with its HS2 proposals despite an overwhelmingly negative response from its own public consultation. One of his main arguments has been that Network Rail is in favour of the scheme. Of course it is. What four star general would not want to play with the latest shiny tanks?
Mr Marshall is very keen to highlight what he perceives to be the benefits of HS2. However there is one thing that is missing from both of his letters. It is something that tends to be excluded from most letters or articles in support of HS2 that I have seen in recent months. That is any reference to the financial cost of the scheme.
Perhaps Mr Marshall doesn’t care about the cost of HS2 or perhaps he doesn’t know what it is. I can help: at 2012 prices the full cost of the project increases to £36 billion.
Against this outlay the alternative costs for platform lengthening (£345 million ) and additional trains (£250 million ) hardly warrant mentioning. Similarly the cost of continuing to fight the HS2 proposals are trivial by comparison.
With our public debt passing £1 trillion we should be more, not less, concerned about the cost of HS2. As former Transport Secretary Phillip Hammond recently said when justifying swingeing defence costs, the nation has to live within its “budget envelope”. Pity he didn’t hold that view when he was at the Department of Transport. - MJ Halliday, via email.
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