HS2 budget is off the rails


HS2 budget is off the rails

HS2 is basically like buying a concert ticket on ticket-master. You think you’re paying a certain amount. Then there are “fees” and “convenience charges” and “facility charges” and “additional fees” and before you know it you’re wondering if that Spice Girls Reunion or McBusted ticket was worth all this faff to begin with. (Note: in the case of McBusted, it totally was). 


That’s what HS2 is like. One day you think you’re paying £55.7 billion…then you’re paying £88 billion, and now you’re paying £106 billion. (But unlike the ticket-master analogy, you don’t have a long obnoxious Instagram story to show for it). All you have is years of delayed construction, confusion and political debate. 


HS2 is a new 250 mph railway that will link London, Birmingham, Manchester, the East Midlands, Sheffield and Leeds. (Heartbreakingly, HS2 is not a sequel to Hairspray). It would be an infrastructure win for the north of England who have been consistently ignored by London’s ruling elite. 


Andy Street, the Conservative leader of the West Midlands called HS2 “the single biggest means to transform jobs and opportunities for people in the Midlands and the north.” He didn’t explain whether it would actually create more opportunities in the north or whether it would mean Northerners could go work in London for the day, and then quickly return by curfew time.  


HS2 was proposed by Labour in 2009 as 330 miles of track that would represent “the first intercity line out of the capital in more than a century.” Since 2009, 0% of those 330 miles have actually been built. Depending on how long it takes to build, HS2 might end up being “the first intercity line out of the capital in more than two? three? four? centuries” — which would obviously make it all the more impressive. 


HS2 has come under criticism for its enormous price tag, which is roughly equivalent to the national net wealth of a small nation like Tunisia or El Salvador. Is the cost benefit really there? Couldn’t the government spend the El Salvadorian net worth on something more useful than a construction project that, after 11 years, literally doesn’t exist? 


Boris Johnson low key wants to back out, but he’s worried about the backlash from the north. He wants to show that he’s committed to northern interests and to improving northern infrastructure. 


And there’s nothing better to show your commitment to the north than building a 250 mph railway so people can leave the north as quickly as possible. 

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