Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Road Lobby Demands HS2 is Scrapped and Cash Made Available to Spread the Benefits

Survey Reveals 2 out of 3 Drivers Agree
Shipping News Feature

UK – When the plans for the high speed rail project HS2 was first mooted it is doubtful that the government of the day realised just how controversial the route might prove. What it certainly should have been aware of however was that, like so many such schemes in the past, costs would run up to levels far higher than the original figures put forward.

Earlier this month we published the scathing attack on the project by the former Deputy Chair of the government enquiry into the project whose own 70 page report put the potential cost as having risen from £56 billion to at least £88 billion, with a potential ceiling now estimated to be as high as £106 billion.

The transport secretary has asked for more data before making a ‘massive decision’ on HS2 and the news of the increase has incensed many in the freight transport community and, unsurprisingly, spurred FairFuelUK, which lobbies on behalf of motorists of every hue. FairFuelUK Driver's Survey 2020 elicited over 71,000 responses with only 17.5% backing the scheme and 18% indecisive meaning almost 2 out of 3 responders are against the development.

For the lobby group this is not a new argument, it has campaigned against HS2 for the past two years after commissioning a Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) study which showed had the same investment (£56 billion) budgeted at the time in 2017 (now almost double that) for HS2 been directed into roads, there would be benefits of £250.7 billion to the economy. This it claims is more than four times the expected net benefits of the entire HS2 network.

FairFuel UK says that diverting investment from roads to other forms of transport is unlikely to solve the environmental issues in the transport sector, and in its view, it is likely to exacerbate them. Howard Cox, Founder of FairFuelUK said:

‘‘It’s staring everyone in the face, freeing up our motoring economy will benefit the environment and massively boost the economy. Yet the Government is now to spend over £100 billion getting to Birmingham 20 minutes quicker by rail, generating a quarter of the economic benefit that spending the same amount on new roads across the UK would deliver.

”Despite 90% of all journeys being taken by road, rail travel receives nine times more investment. And with our road network such a snarling, constipated ruin we wonder why pollution is claimed to be at record levels?”

Photo: Curzon Street Station, Birmingham gets ready for HS2.