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Business leaders brand HS2 "a grand folly"
THE case against HS2 was given another blow this week as a leading business association called it a grand folly.
Members of the Institute of Directors said they were doubtful of the benefits of the multi billion pound high speed rail project, with business leaders in the north saying the business case "simply is not there".
One of the key arguments in favour of HS2 is it will bridge the north/south divide, but research carried out by the Institute of Directors - an association of business leaders - shows people expect London to benefit the most from the planned line.
The IoD's research is a further blow to the HS2 business case, with their announcement coming a week after the Institute for Economic Affairs said government ministers disregarded key evidence.
The IEA estimated the £42.6billion currently set aside for the project could balloon to as much as £80billion, but the company behind HS2 said no alternative scheme delivers the same benefits.
The IoD's director general Simon Walker said: "Businesses up and down the country know value for money when they see it, and our research shows that they don’t see it in the government’s case for HS2.
"Overall there appears to be little enthusiasm amongst IoD members, not even in the regions where the benefits are supposed to be strongest. Indeed, our research shows that almost every region expects London to benefit the most.
"The IoD cannot support the government’s current economic case for HS2 when so many of our members are doubtful of the benefits. We agree with the need for key infrastructure spending, but the business case for HS2 simply is not there.
"The money would be far better spent elsewhere and in a way that will benefit much more of the country. Investment in the West and East Coast main lines combined with a variety of other infrastructure projects would be a far more sensible option.
"It is time for the government to look at a thousand smaller projects instead of falling for one grand folly."
HS2 Ltd Chief Executive Alison Munro said: "Whilst we respect the right of the Institute of Directors to state its case, we believe that HS2 will provide value for money and will bring about a transformational change to the economic geography of our country through creating thousands of jobs and opportunities for regeneration in and around our core cities.
"There is no other alternative that delivers the benefits of HS2. Through building a world class 21st century high speed rail network that will link our great cities both north and south as never before, we are focused on delivering within our budget of £42.6billion to provide the capacity we need on those routes and free up space to expand commuter services and freight."
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