Billions might have been saved if government hadn’t ignored HS2 alternative | Politics | News

December 26, 2023
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Billions of pounds of taxpayers cash could have been saved had the government not ignored an alternative to the HS2 high speed rail scheme, campaigners have said.

The plan from High Speed UK (HSUK) would have lopped an estimated £20 billion off the bill.

Earlier this year Rishi Sunak axed the Birmingham to Manchester leg of the scheme and promised to use the £36 billion of savings to fund hundreds of other transport schemes.

The Prime Minister said he was ending the HS2 saga because the project’s costs had “more than doubled”.

Building the rail link between London and Birmingham is expected to cost a staggering £70 billion.

The HSUK plan included building new lines, upgrading existing ones and restoring abandoned ones across Britain.

But it was ignored nine years ago after being presented to the House of Lords Economic Affairs committee.

A similar plan was given the green light instead.

At the time HSUK, whose railway engineers Quentin Macdonald and Colin Hoff have a combined 80 years of experience, claimed their plan would have a capital cost of £40 billion compared to HS2’s £60 billion.

The £60 billion figure spiralled to around £100 billion until the Prime Minister stepped in.

They told the committee their plan would have saved 600 million tonnes of CO2 and avoided the Chilterns AONB.

Campaigners said taxpayers would be fed-up to know that a cheaper alternative could have been used.

John O’Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “Taxpayers will be tearing their hair out at this missed opportunity.

“HSUK, like the TPA, was calling for a cheaper alternative to HS2 long before the white elephant hit the buffers, but were ignored while billions were wasted.

“Ministers have questions to answer about why they ignored calls for a wider connectivity plan that would have saved money and connected Great Britain.”

A government source said: “Taxpayers will be rightly frustrated that costs have gone up but the Prime Prime Minister has taken decisive action to end the ongoing saga and provide a clear and cost-effective plan for the future that will benefit more people in the north.”



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