LETTER: HS2 is a white elephant

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There are many follies in England’s green and pleasant land. Most were built by individuals perhaps wanting to leave a permanent monument to them having existed and having enjoyed some measure of success in their lives. 
Most have some artistic or architectural merit and so have survived. Generally they have no practical use, hence their naming as ‘follies’.

UKIP’s 2015 parliamentary manifesto was the only fully costed and verified one produced, and to make it work HS2 has to be cancelled and the money spent elsewhere:

“Save £4billion a year in capital expenditure by scrapping the HS2 vanity project, which will benefit the few at the expense of many.”

These savings would be; £800 million 2015/16, £1,700m 2016/17, £1,700m 2017/18, £3,300m 2018/19 and £4,000m 2019/20. 
Despite the three main parties all saying they wanted HS2, the project hardly got a mention in their manifestoes, but in the case of UKIP, we thoroughly laid out our reasons for cancelling it:

In October 2013, Lord Mandelson, speaking in the House of Lords about the Labour government’s decision to instigate the HS2 high-speed rail-link, confessed: “It was a political trophy project justified on flimsy evidence”.

HS2 is running out of control. UKIP believe we should stop this flawed vanity scheme in its tracks.

The estimated cost is already £50bn and HS2 Ltd is planning to spend more than £800m in 2016.

The Government’s own estimates show the cost will never be recouped.

We feel HS2 will blight thousands of homes and wreak irreparable environmental damage across large tracts of central England. The argument that HS2 is needed to provide extra capacity has been questioned by the House of Lords economic affairs committee, which concluded that: ‘the Government has not made a convincing case for why this particular project should go ahead.’

There is barely any evidence that HS2 will reduce the north-south divide.

The north would get much quicker and higher benefit from investment in the infrastructure between northern towns and cities.

I am convinced HS2 will become a white elephant before it goes fully into service, and a monument to government squandering which the taxpayers will have to fund for many years in the future. Even travel on the existing rail system is far too expensive. Will potential passengers be willing to pay even more? Of course they could make the track bed wide enough to convert to a road but that would require an admission of potential failure.

HS2 is an unaffordable Labour folly and given other far more pressing calls on public expenditure, such as the NHS, social care and defence, not to mention the need to reduce the deficit, it must face the axe.

Perhaps the worst criticism may be gleaned from the fact that HS2 is an EU concept: has the EU ever got anything right?

Stephen Crosby

UKIP Mansfield