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High Speed 2: Economic benefits revised down for second time in a year

The government yesterday revealed that it had revised down the economic benefits of a High Speed railway between London, the West Midlands, Manchester and Leeds for the second time in a year, but it confirmed its commitment to going ahead with the now £32.7M scheme.

The benefit cost ratio for the HS2 scheme, excluding wider economic benefits, stood at 1.6:1 for the £18.8bn first stretch from London to the West Midlands, a revision down from 2.4:1 last February. However, as a result of the updated work published by the Department for Transport yesterday, this has been revised down again to 1.4:1.

The benefit to cost ratio of the full Y network including Manchester and Leeds has gone from 2.2:1 to 1.6:1 over the same period. Despite the revisions, the government’s report Economic Case for HS2, published yesterday, states that both the Y configuration including Manchester and Leeds as well as the London to West Midlands first phase as a standalone proposition offer a “positive transport case”. However, the remaining Y route from the West Midlands to the North is yet to be detailed — the government has commissioned this work and it is set to be completed by March.

The report also emphasised the wider economic benefits, which when added to net benefits could be in the range of £47.2bn to £59.3bn, it said.

“I have decided Britain should embark upon the most significant transport infrastructure project since the building of the motorways by supporting the development and delivery of a new national high speed rail network,” said Greening. “By following in the footsteps of the 19th century railway pioneers, the Government is signalling its commitment to providing 21st century infrastructure and connections – laying the groundwork for long-term, sustainable economic growth.”

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