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

One male suspect has also died, with Parliament sergeant-at-arms Kevin Vickers hailed for helping to stop the attacker reaching MPs.

Read more

Lindsay Booth said The Apprentice taught her to put more emphasis on life than business.

Read more

Tina Fey and Jason Bateman star as brother and sister, who return home after the death of their father in This Is Where I Leave You.

Read more

Promotions

AGA Living Subscription

Every issue of AGA Living magazine is packed full of celebrity AGA owner interviews, interior and design features, ideas to inspire your culinary imagination, mouth-watering recipes and inspirational shopping ideas.

Dojo gives you hand picked recommendations for events, places and activities in London

Tired of always hearing about some amazing event in London after its gone, missing out on the best activities? That’s where Dojo comes in.

One male suspect has also died, with Parliament sergeant-at-arms Kevin Vickers hailed for helping to stop the attacker reaching MPs.

Most of downtown Ottawa is in lockdown, say police.

A gunman has shot a Canadian soldier standing guard at the National War Memorial in Ottawa, then entered parliament and shots rang out, according to reports. People fled the building by scrambling down scaffolding erected for renovations, witnesses told the Canadian Press news agency. The top spokesman for Stephen Harper said the prime minister was […]

From birds and insects to a frog, iguana and lions: the beautiful shots of the Wildlife Photographer Of The Year exhibition.

TOP Stories

The woman's arrest is linked to the ongoing war in Syria (Photo by David Silverman/Getty Images)

Two people have been arrested in separate terror raids linked to Syria today.

Monir Saleh pushed his 93-year-old victim so hard that she fell over, screaming [Photograph from Metropolitan Police]

A man who pushed a pensioner with a walking frame over in a botched robbery has been sentenced to three years and four months in jail.

13:54
Trains to and from Marylebone Station are disrupted by the incident [Picture from Google StreetView]

Trains are delayed by up to an hour between Princes Risborough and London Marylebone stations.

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.