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Scrapping HS2 could fund 28 transport schemes, report claims

Hs2 trains

Scrapping High Speed 2 (HS2) would free up enough cash to fund 28 local and national transport projects, lobbying group TaxPayers’ Alliance has claimed. 

The TaxPayers’ Alliance has published a list of 28 local and national transport infrastructure projects which it claims could be funded if the £55bn HS2 was scrapped in a report entitled The great British transport competition.

It was due to be published by former Brexit secretary and Conservative MP David Davis at a parliamentary reception today.

Schemes include a £5M scheme to rebuild Cullompton Railway Station in Devon, as well as additional funds for access roads to the £6.8bn Lower Thames Crossing scheme in London. 

The report conlcudes that the total cost of the 28 mooted projects would cost £45.1bn, £10.6bn less than the current HS2 estimated cost of £55.7bn.

The electrification of the Midland Mainline between London St Pancras and Leeds, is also identified as a project which could benefit from additional funding, with the TaxPayers’ Alliance concluding that it would be an “important alternative” to HS2 “and far cheaper”.

The report states that the project could be carried out for £5bn over five years. The alliance claims it could be “potentially more useful than phase 2b of HS2” as could link the existing High Speed 1 line to the Channel Tunnel and mainland Europe.

Reopening the Stourbridge to Lichfield railway would also benefit from the TaxPayers’ Alliance proposal. The report states that the mothballed route could be “easily” cleared of undergrowth and a new track laid on the existing bed. Works could be carried out over five to 10 years for an estimated £120M.

“The case for scrapping High Speed 2 gets stronger by the day,” the report states. “Increasingly, people from across the political spectrum are waking up to the fundamental issues which have plagued this project.

“Whether it be the spiralling costs, environmental damage, consistent mismanagement or overwhelming unpopularity of the project, the tide is turning against HS2.”

The projects were chosen from a list of ideas submitted by members of the public in response to a competition set up by the Alliance.

They were selected by a panel made up of Tax Payers’ Alliance members and long standing HS2 opponents Lord Berkeley and MBPC Infrastructure managing director Michael Byng.

The list in fullCostTimescale
A1 - Dual carriageway From Durham To Edinburgh £1.3bn 10 to 15 years
Reopen the Skipton-Colne Railway Line £100M 4 years
Reopen the Beverley to York railway £300M 5 to 8 years
Ashington, Blyth and Tyne railway £50M 3 to 4 years
Britain’s S-Bahn Network: Leeds £1bn 5 to 6 years
Reopen the Keswick To Penrith railway £110M 3 to 4 years
Upgrade the Settle and Carlisle railway £30M 5 years
Reopen Blackburn to Hellifield £15M 5 years
High Speed UK-North £18.1bn 10 to 15 years
The Whitacre Link £400M 5 to 8 years
Reopen Stourbridge to Lichfield £120M 5 to 10 years
Upgrade the Rugby to Birmingham railway line £1.5bn 5 to 15 years
Upgrade the A5 to Expressway Standard £500M 3 to 5 years
Reopen the Sutton Park Line to Passengers £100M 5 years
Chiltern Main Line electrification £1bn 3 to 5 years
Midland Main Line electrification £5bn 5 years
Improve the Felixstowe to Nuneaton freight route £1.5bn 5 to 8 years
Reopen the March to Wisbech Line to passengers £110M 4 to 5 years
A new station on the Bury St Edmunds to Ely line £40M 3 to 5 years
Extend Crossrail to Stansted Airport and Cambridge £4bn 4 years
Lower Thames Crossing £6.8bn 6 years
Brighton Mainline 2: Sussex Phase £500M 8 to 10 years
Improve connectivity to Bristol Temple Meads £125M 5 years
Rebuild Cullompton Station £15M 5 years
Exeter to Plymouth via Okehampton £500M 5 to 8 years
Reopen the Bodmin to Wadebridge Railway line £25M 3 to 5 years
Cross Cornwall rail link £125M 3 to 5 years
Build cycle paths next to motorways and A-roads £1.82bn 10 years

Readers' comments (8)

  • Interesting fact: Using NR costings, you could reinstate ALL of the Beeching cuts and have change for predicted final cost of HS2. Makes you think....

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  • Chelsea miner

    The Tax Payers' Alliance is a right-wing pressure group in the United Kingdom formed in 2004 to campaign for a low tax society.

    Major questions have been raised regarding the funding of the organisation with speculation that significant contributions have been received from overseas. The Tax Payers Alliance was given the lowest possible grade for Think Tank financial transparency by Who Funds You, a British project that seeks to rate and promote transparency of funding sources of think tanks.

    The Tax Payers Alliance has also had its links to other Euro-skeptic, Hard Right or Climate Change Denying Think Tanks based out of out of 55 Tufton Street questioned.

    Why is NCE giving air time to these guys??

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  • Michael Thorn

    Putting aside political motivations, this is what some of us have been saying for a very long time for practical reasons. If you have £55bn to spend on improving the country's transport infrastructure, there are many more socially beneficial ways of doing this than creating a single new link between London and Birmingham. We need to resist the inexorable growth of the London Powerhouse, sucking in infrastructure investment , and campaign for serious transport investment for the rest of the country as an equal priority.

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  • Nefarious organisations like the Taxpayers' Alliance gain traction by picking issues of interest to their target audience to gain credibility with them. The best way to deal with this organisation is to steal those of their ideas which are good ideas, quickly.

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  • All of the above schemes would be blighted by the same 'negative' impacts which are levelled at the HS2 scheme. No infrastructure project whether it be a local, regional or national will be exempt from environmental impact, mismanagement or poor public perception.

    To give credence to shady organisations such as the TPA is a miss-step in the reporting descision making of the NCE in my opinion.

    Perhaps the TPA could release the C/B analysis that should be provided with each of the alternative schemes, then a reasoned debate over the merits of each scheme can be made against the HS2 project.

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  • I'm not convinced that putting cycle paths next to motorways would be a good idea.

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  • As a southerner, I like the idea of improving the rail network generally and readdressing the north-south balance despite London's lines being over-crowded. I do fear that, if HS2 gets built, it will only run between Birmingham and London.
    Yes I do accept that all new schemes will almost certainly suffer to some extent from environmental and cost problems.
    Regarding the question of reinstating the Beeching cuts, do not forget that many but not all of the lines that did shut were more rural branch rather than main lines. It was those such as the Great Central, the line through Hawick, etc. that I think have proved to be bad decisions and not all of these were made by Beeching.

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  • Although the anticipated cost of HS2 apparently keeps rising, what's to say that the rest of these proposed schemes won't rise in price similarly? There does not appear to be much in the way of detailed costing behind each of the scheme.

    I imagine if the TPA's approach was adopted, they would then soon be railing against the "profligate" spending of each individual scheme and pick them off one by one., particularly as they too increased in cost as the full extent of each scheme was understood and defined.

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