The proposed £50bn high-speed railway linking London with the North will pay for itself “within a few years” while adding £800m-a-year to the West and North Yorkshire economies, a major new study finds today.
A report by KPMG has concluded the regions will be “the big winners” from Britain’s biggest infrastructure project in a generation.
The analysis comes as Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin, the MP for Derbyshire Dales, prepares to push on with the Government’s carefully-choreographed fightback on HS2 with a speech in London this morning, in which he will describe the scheme as “our chance to level the playing field between North and South”.
His words will echo the support of senior Ministers including David Cameron, George Osborne and Nick Clegg over the past few days, each of whom have stressed there is no turning back on the project.
HS2’s opponents were heartened this week when a survey suggested public opposition to the scheme is growing, and by a report from the Commons public accounts committee which questioned the business case for the £50bn project.
But the new analysis by KPMG claims the new line will add £15bn-a-year to Britain’s GDP, with the Leeds city region – which covers West and part of North Yorkshire – alone seeing its economy grow by 1.6 per cent.
“This means more than £5bn-a-year in extra tax receipts – more than enough to cover the long term costs of the project to the taxpayer,” said KPMG’s lead on infrastructure, Lewis Atter.
Mr McLoughlin will today stress the primary reason for building the new line is to increase capacity on Britain’s increasingly overcrowded railways, however.
“The benefits of faster journeys are easy to explain,” he will say. “But speed is not the main reason for building the new railway.
“The main reason we need HS2 is as a heart bypass for the clogged arteries of our transport system.”