HS2 Policy Briefing

This briefing paper offers our take on the current HS2 debate.

Briefing published on 30 October 2013 by Centre for Cities

The debate surrounding the merits of HS2 has been characterised by claim and counter claim, study and counter study, as to the true nature of the economic benefits and environmental damage it could produce or inflict. The truth is that the kind of long term cost-benefit analyses undertaken for projects of this scale can never be perfect.

Those charged with the responsibility of deciding whether to proceed with HS2 must of course weigh the evidence that has been produced, and do everything that they can to keep costs under control throughout. But decisions of this magnitude will ultimately come down to a series of political and economic judgements regarding the best way to support the British economy today and in the future.

Should the decision be taken to proceed, it is vital that far greater attention is given to helping those cities that the new line connects extract maximum economic benefit from it. HS2 can only successfully drive growth if it is integrated with existing local transport networks, stations are accessible from city centres, tickets are affordable for commuters, and critically, if it is not delivered at the expense of other, more incremental local transport improvements.