HS2 bridge prefabricated section being craned into place

HS2: build quicker is cheaper says industry leader

HS2 bridge prefabricated section being craned into place at Colne ValleyImage HS2

It would be cheaper to deliver Britain’s HS2 high speed rail project quickly, instead of the UK government decision to pause work on non-core parts of the route. Slowing down the building of the initial London – Birmingham section is also counter productive. Those are the observations of Tom Wadsworth, a board member at the High Speed Rail Group, the body representing companies with relevant experience and an interest in high speed rail.

The recent announcement that the UK Government is delaying the HS2 project again has caused deep disappointment across the north of England. The decision risks delaying the long-term prosperity and growth of Leeds, Sheffield, and Yorkshire as a whole. Tom Wadsworth, a director of the High Speed Rail Group, argues that this delay will actually increase the cost of the project, as each new delay causes the total cost of the project to escalate.

Bring together Britain’s largest economic regions

Wadsworth says the core arguments for high-speed rail are enhanced rail capacity, and transformed connectivity between major towns and cities. He says HS2 will lead to growth and investment spread more evenly across Britain. In other words, it will answer the UK government pledge to ‘level up’ the economy, and redress the a zero-carbon alternative. The project, he told a north of England newspaper, will bring together Britain’s largest economic regions to support growth and spread prosperity more evenly.

Portrait of Tom Wadsworth
Tom Wadsworth of the High Speed Rail Group

Like any large infrastructure project, argues Wadsworth, the cheapest way to deliver HS2, is to get on with it. He says that introducing delay adds another layer of cost to the project. That’s a view shared by other observers and project managers, who have struggled to understand the government’s motives. The overall consensus is that with infrastructure project costs rising due to inflation, the short-term savings from delaying HS2 are significantly outweighed by the additional costs incurred in later years.

Delay helps nobody

According to figures from the High Speed Rail Group, HS2 already supports 27,000 jobs at some 2,580 businesses. Among that workforce are 950 apprentices. Wadsworth says standing down and then re-starting that huge supply chain adds to the overall cost of the project, and uncertainty in government breeds uncertainty in industry. Wadsworth argues that we now need a definitive, unswerving commitment to the new delivery plan and timescale.

There is worry that it will be very difficult to reestablish that workforce and expertise, if it is allowed to disperse. HS2 can still fulfill its potential, says Wadsworth. The onus is now on the government to prove its commitment to the project. Wadsworth concludes that the transformative change HS2 will bring to cities and regions across the UK is being deferred, and it helps nobody to delay these outcomes.

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Author: Simon Walton

Simon Walton is UK correspondent for RailTech.com and Railfreight.com

1 comment op “HS2: build quicker is cheaper says industry leader”

Ke Shree|15.05.23|15:38

Great article. Thank you for sharing…

– Keshree.com

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