Azara Blog: HS2 gets approved by the government

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Date published: 2012/01/10

The BBC says:

Plans for a £33bn high-speed rail network have received a mixed reaction, after being approved by the government.

The British Chambers of Commerce said the plan would be welcomed by "businesses up and down the country".

But critics say the route will damage the environment and dispute projected benefits of up to £47bn, describing the scheme as a "white elephant".

BBC transport correspondent Richard Westcott says opponents are seriously considering legal action to halt HS2.

Transport Secretary Justine Greening said she had agreed to a new "railway revolution in Britain".

"A modern and reliable and fast service between our major cities and international gateways befitting the 21st Century will transform the way we travel and promote Britain's economic and social prosperity," she said in a statement to the House of Commons.

Ms Greening said there would be extra tunnelling along the 140-mile (225km) first phase in an attempt to offset environmental concerns.

Phase one of HS2, between London and Birmingham, should be running by 2026, later extending to northern England, she said.

That will be followed by a second phase of the Y-shaped route reaching Manchester and Leeds by about 2033.

The stated cost of 33 billion is almost certainly an underestimate. The stated value of 47 billion is almost certainly an overestimate. It will be extremely lucky if the cost is lower than the value. So it is extremely likely that this project will never pay for itself.

Given the ability of middle class (i.e. rich) protestors to create legal obstructions, it will also be lucky if anything is up and running by 2026.

Traditionally even when vast engineering projects like this do not pay for themselves, future generations are thankful that past generations did the work, because it means the infrastructure is there. Unfortunately in the current situation, the cost for this will just be piled onto the already huge UK government budget deficit, so in fact future taxpayers will be paying for this project, more than current ones.

The worst thing about this project is that it will encourage London commuters to live even further away from London than they already do, pushing up house prices as they migrate outwards.

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