3 questions that could kill HS2

The viability of the HS2 rail line has come under scrutiny again this week ahead of a crucial parliamentary vote.

The high speed line linking northern cities such as Manchester and Leeds with London has faced criticism since it was first mooted.

However, currently there are three key questions that could stop the giant infrastructure project in its tracks (or even before any are laid).

Will it bring the economic benefits that are promised?

A study by the centre-right think tank the Institute of Economic Affairs has said the north will not receive the kind of economic benefits expected.

It said the government risked misleading the public.

The report’s author, Richard Wellings, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme he was “sceptical about these very ambitious claims that it is going to be transformative, it is going to tackle the north-south divide, it is going to turn northern cities into world leaders”.

Will it get through parliament?

Today’s House of Commons vote is one in a long line of parliamentary processes before any construction work on HS2 starts.

At least 30 Conservative MPs are likely to vote against HS2 or abstain today. This means it will be down to Labour Party support to carry the vote.

The British Chambers of Commerce has called for all political parties to put aside their differences in order to speed up the process.

MP  Cheryl Gillan, who is among the Tory rebels, said: “First of all, it’s got to get through its committee stage in front of the hybrid bill committee then it has to have report stage and third reading in the House of Commons.

“It then has to go to the Lords and go through a similar process. So this bill will not be through before the general election and it will depend on the government of the day as to whether it is continued or whether it is at that stage abandoned.”

Will it stay within budget?

The project has already been given what many see as a generous budget and cost has been one of the main points of contention in the past.

It is expected to cost £42.6bn, with trains costing £7.5bn. Many critics have said the money could be better spent elsewhere – particularly in expanding east-west links between major northern cities such as Sheffield, Leeds and Manchester.

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Readers' comments (3)

  • I'm actually really for HS2 - It's about time England caught up in terms of travel.

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  • Thanks for the comment Kate. Apparently there hasn't been a single rail line built north of London in more than 100 years, so it's long overdue!

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  • Anonymous

    Nobody has said how much a ticket will cost yet.

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