Group supports ‘huge spending risk’ rail claims

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AN ENVIRONMENTAL group is backing claims that High Speed Rail plans are a huge spending risk.

Chiltern Countryside Group is supporting the announcement made by The TaxPayers’ Alliance on Friday, which exposes flaws in the business case for the rail, planned to run from Birmingham to London.

Group spokesman Sue Yeomans said: “We haven’t seen the report in full detail yet, but we support their view that this is a high-risk project with no guarantees that this is going to produce the positive effect the government are telling us has.

“We fear the Chilterns will be sacrificed for no good reason.”

The report says the line will cost £17billion and is expected to save journey times by 30 minutes, a cost of over £500million per minute saved.

It says net operating profit once it has been built will only cover 42 per cent of capital costs over 60 years, the plans will not cut greenhouse emissions and will require a 267 per cent rise in demand for the figures to work. The report dubbed HS2 as ‘a railway for the rich, but paid for by everyone’.

Department for Transport spokesman Lauren Psyk said: “Building a high speed rail network will allow us to grasp a once-in-a-generation opportunity to re-shape Britain’s economic geography and ensure every part of the country contributes to and benefits.”

She said the line is modelled on the same fares structure as the existing railway, will be broadly carbon neutral and will allow a huge increase in travel.

“Doing nothing is simply not an option,” she said. “To duck this issue now would consign Britain to steadily deteriorating travel times and conditions between our major cities.”