HS1-Not All That?

A Government commissioned report published earlier this week states that Britain’s first high-speed rail line, High Speed 1,  has failed to regenerate deprived areas of the southeast and left the taxpayer out of pocket.

An analysis by consulting and engineering companies, Atkins, Aecom and Frontier Economics, found the net present value of HS1 – when existing benefits are weighed against the cost of building and maintaining the line – represents a loss of up to £5.9bn over 60 years before wider economic impacts are factored in. The 150-page study said there was “evidence of early stage real estate and regeneration” along the route but insisted that these effects “could not be considered significant to date”.

The report raises significant concerns for the business case for High Speed 2-which is heavily dependent on the promise of promises of economic regeneration. Backers of HS2 point to HS1 as an example of the economic benefits of high speed rail. This report’s conclusions indicate just how speculative such claims are.

The report was commissioned following criticism in 2012 by the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee of the Department for Transport for its failure to evaluate the economic impact of HS1. 

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