“Grand vanity projects” – HS2
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State and local governments want showcase projects and councillors and ministers want “legacies” . . .
A reader on holiday in Devon took time off to draw our attention to an article by Liam Halligan, who has a remarkably wide wealth of business experience.
Last week, George Osborne, David Cameron and government ministers were photographed inspecting building projects across the country, wearing hard hats and high-visibility jackets. The message: the Coalition is delivering on infrastructure.
The Treasury published an updated list of over 200 major projects to be completed or started in 2014-15 – infrastructure spending will be £36bn this year, according to Downing Street, up from £15bn in 2013. But since 2010 the national debt has risen from £800bn to over £1,200bn. Government is still borrowing £100bn-plus annually, as it has for five successive years.
Halligan’s view on the HS2 proposal: “What desperately needs addressing isn’t inter-city speed, but massive overcrowding on local commuter lines — not only into London, but Birmingham, Leeds, and Manchester too, where passenger numbers have grown faster than those into and out of the capital.
He advocates placing a greater emphasis on cross-country train services. Instead of spending £80bn-plus on the London-Birmingham leg of HS2, there should be investment in the two lines that already run between the two cities. Rather than a marginally quicker service from London to Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield – the cost of which will limit its use largely to business travellers –a world-class and more frequent inter-city links between the great northern cities is needed.
The last word from Halligan: “The UK’s public finances remain in a critical state. Now is the time for cost-effective solutions to genuine problems, not grand vanity projects”
Posted on April 27, 2014, in Government, Lobbying, Planning and tagged Cross-country train services, David Cameron, George Osborne, HS2, Leeds, Liam Halligan, London, Manchester, Sheffield, UK public finances. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.
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