Alistair Darling attacks HS2 for ‘draining the railways of money’

10:40 23 August 2013

Former Labour chancellor of the exchequer Alistair Darling has strongly attacked the HS2 high-speed rail project. Picture: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

Former Labour chancellor of the exchequer Alistair Darling has strongly attacked the HS2 high-speed rail project. Picture: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

The former Labour chancellor Alistair Darling has strongly attacked the HS2 high-speed rail project saying its economic benefits are ‘highly contentious’.

Mr Darling, who is also a former transport secretary, said HS2 ‘ran the risk of substantially draining the railways of money over the next 30 years’.

Saying political visions ‘can easily become nightmare’, the chancellor under Gordon Brown added it seemed ‘foolish’ to commit to a project that ruled out any other major schemes.

His comments came in The Times and follow earlier reservations he has expressed about HS2.

The Government has said the cost of HS2, whose first phase will see high-speed trains running from London to Birmingham around 2026, is around £50billion.

But an Institute for Economic Affairs report earlier this week estimated the eventual cost at £80billion, and it has been reported the Treasury is working on a figure of £73billion.

Mr Darling said today: “It is time to revisit the case for HS2. It runs the risk of substantially draining the railway of money vital for investment over the next 30 years.

“My experience in government also makes me suspicious of big projects that can easily run out of control. Politicians are always excited by ‘visionary’ schemes.

“One thing I have learnt is that transport, rather like banking, is at its best when it is boring. That is when it tends to work.

“Political visions can easily become nightmares.”

Mr Darling said it was true there were capacity problems on the route from London to the Midlands and north west England, but added there were also severe capacity problems on commuter routes, particularly in the south east.

He said: “And why high-speed trains? Certainly it’s handy to cut the journey time between Birmingham and London by half an hour. But at what cost?

“To commit ourselves to spending so much on a project that rules out any other major schemes seems foolish. And the costs are not yet nailed down.

“The facts have changed. The case for HS2 was just about stateable in 2010. I don’t believe it is today.”

Latest Stories from SNAP.PA

After flipping tables and swearing at boxers and journalists Tyson Fury has taken the very necessary step of taping his mouth shut.

Read more

Alicia Keys’ We Are Here movement draws attention to global issues that she believes we can solve by working together.

Read more

Tony Blair says air strikes are useful but “air power alone will not suffice”.

Read more

TOP Stories

13 minutes ago
The court heard the plot was inspired by the hit US show Breaking Bad, starring Aaron Paul, Anna Gunn and Bryan Cranston (Picture: UPI/Phil McCarten /LANDOV)

A lovestruck daughter tried to kill her ‘controlling and selfish’ mother by lacing her Diet Coke with poison and watching her drink it in a plot inspired by Breaking Bad, a court has heard.

12:03
Police were called to an incident on Crow Lane in Romford early on Saturday morning. [Photograph from Google StreetView]

A woman was raped in the early hours of Saturday morning.

The RMT said TfL is 'hell-bent' on pressing through with its progamme to close Tube ticket offices (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

The RMT has warned of a fresh wave of industrial action after accusing TfL of being ‘hell-bent’ on shutting all ticket offices and cutting jobs at London Underground stations.

Promotions

Advanced running and training technology for beginners up to elite athletes

If you’re thinking of adding running treadmill to your fitness routine, you’re on the right track! There are several advantages to running on a treadmill versus running outdoors.

Renault-Zoe

The Renault ZOE follows on from the introduction of the electric Fluence ZE and Twizy, but unlike the former, the ZOE was designed from the ground up as an electric vehicle.

When no simple way to find Real Ale was at hand, 4 Ale enthusiasts got together to allow anyone with a smart phone to find Real Ale no matter where they happened to be, this was the birth of the Perfect Pint app.

London Bloggers

Wednesday, September 17, 2014
The cast, including Josie Lawrence and Mike Myers

Simon Collins catches up with the improv impresarios, who despite being the world’s longest-running comedy show with the same cast, have lost none of the razor-sharp wit:

Monday, September 1, 2014
Do you really need an explanation for that?! (Pic by Serena Marinelli)

If you’ve ever seen an Italian movie, you would probably know how important body language is in the culture.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014
Don't waste any of your harvest

If you are now inundated with ripe tomatoes, juicy green beans, berries and herbs, don’t leave them to go stringy or mouldy because the freezer can go a long way to making your crops last well into winter.

Quizzes

(Photo by Ben Horton/Getty Images for Madame Tussauds Hollywood)

If there’s one thing that can change Londoners from nice, normal people into superhumans capable of extreme levels of rage and passive aggression, it’s the descent below-ground.

Read more
Do you fancy yourself as a football ground know-it-all? Try our devilishly difficult quiz!

How well do you know your football stadiums? This brand new quiz from London24 will seperate the men from the boys...

Read more
Do you know your Thames truths from the porkie pies? (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

So, you live (or work) in London, and you think you know the river well.

Read more