IT is heartening to see such a robust case for HS2 being made (Tom Richmond, The Yorkshire Post, July 11).
One of the least understood aspects of this exciting project is that by the middle of the century it will have cost the taxpayer less than nothing. Fares revenue will exceed operating costs by a substantial margin, allowing handsome returns to the taxpayer through the franchise system – just as happens now with the West Coast Main Line, despite very low off-peak fares.
So far as capital costs are concerned, these will be repaid to the taxpayer by leasing the running rights to private finance, as happens today with HS1 in the South East; at the end of the 25- year lease, the asset returns to the Government to be re-leased at yet more profit to the taxpayer.
This return is achieved before we even consider the growth stimulated in the economy, particularly in the North, which is already starting to happen on the assumption HS2 will be built and which is forecast to return £2 for every £1 spent. A magnificent 21st century addition to our railway system, linking our 10 biggest conurbations and releasing capacity on the network to increase freight and provide much-needed new commuter/regional services – and all at no cost. What’s not to like?