A new report has suggested that Britain’s regions would benefit most from HS2, quashing claims that the high-speed line would only bring greater prosperity the Southeast.
KPMG believes the line would boost the UK’s economy by £15 billion a year, with Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester set to experience the greatest economic boost.
The report suggests that Birmingham could see its economy grow by between 2.1 and 4.2 per cent, Leeds by around 1.6 per cent and Manchester between 0.8 and 1.7 per cent.
It predicts that London would benefit least, with growth of just 0.5 per cent.
Richard Threlfall, KPMG’s head for infrastructure, building and construction, said: “There have been repeated calls for a business case for the HS2 scheme focused on jobs, productivity and growth.
[pullquote]”HS2 is not simply a rail project, the development opportunities around new stations alone will be a major catalyst for regional growth…”[/pullquote]
“KPMG’s analysis forms a key part of that business case, setting out the economic impact across the country of the HS2 scheme. It shows beyond reasonable doubt that HS2 brings net benefits to the country of many times the scheme’s cost. It shows the UK will be £15 billion a year better off with HS2, recovering the cost of the scheme within just a few years.”
KPMG’s analysis follows a report by the Public Accounts Committee further fuelling the argument against the new line.
The report argues that HS2 has not yet set out a convincing case for that the benefits of the line would outweigh the project’s potential £42.6 billion price tag.
Welcoming the KPMG’s report, a spokesman for HS2 said: “This KPMG Report makes a hugely significant contribution to the progress of HS2. Increased rail capacity, with faster and more reliable connectivity, will contribute to the economy right across the UK.
“The North and Midlands are set to gain at least double the benefit for the south.. There is now clear evidence of the economic boost HS2 represents in terms of jobs, productivity and growth. HS2 is the right project at the right time.”
The report signals something of a fightback against a flood of negative reports from national media outlets. A battle which will continue later this morning when Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin speaks at the Institute of Civil Engineers to again stress the need for HS2.
The managing director of consultancy WSP in the UK believed that HS2 “doomsayers” had failed to look beyond the cost of the project.
Mark Naysmith said: “HS2 is not simply a rail project, the development opportunities around new stations alone will be a major catalyst for regional growth.
“Furthermore, no one has yet to come up with a realistic alternative that can serve the same purpose. Ploughing the money into existing lines just isn’t justifiable and doing nothing is clearly not an option if we want to remain competitive and progressive.”
Patrick McLoughlin will deliver the opening talk of the REF’s ‘Engineering a National High Speed Rail Network’ technical seminar on October 21 at One Great George Street, Westminster, SW1P 3AA (ICE). Speakers will include HS2 chief executive Alison Monroe, Network Rail chief executive David Higgins, as well as representatives from Bechtel, Hitachi and Mott MacDonald. For sponsor/exhibition opportunities contact [email protected].