From: Simon Cross, New Crofton, Wakefield.
FURTHER to recent correspondence from Nigel Davies of London, he is right to state the HS2 requires much scrutiny. However, it is the alarming, ever escalating cost of the project and its over-stated benefits that require further scrutiny.
The recently announced cost increase to around £88bn is not the full and final cost of delivering this project. It is understood that the Department for Transport is satisfied that the figure of £106bn in 2015 prices is accurate.
In August 2018, it was reported that Sir John Armitt, chair of the National Infrastructure Commission, stated that a further £43bn must be spent on other infrastructure upgrades to make the most of HS2.
To serve Sheffield, the HS2 M18 Eastern route through Yorkshire has been designed to make use of the existing Dearne Valley line between Thurnscoe and Sheffield Midland station and the Midland Main Line to the south of Sheffield. These existing routes must be upgraded if HS2 services are to operate over them.
The cost of creating two junctions at the HS2 main line is included in the HS2 budget, but not the cost of the upgrading the Dearne Valley and Midland Main Lines.
Upgrading the existing lines to the north and south of Sheffield to accommodate overhead gantries will be a challenging and costly task.
Billions will need to be spent from the budgets of others to accommodate the HS2 proposal, yet the HS2 benefit to cost ratio (BCR) includes the benefit of operating HS2 services through Sheffield but not the associated cost, a practice that HS2 chair, Allan Cook, described as being ‘‘disingenuous’’.
The proposals will also impact on current heavy rail passenger services in South Yorkshire to such an extent that an extension of the tram-train system is being considered to replace existing heavy rail services between Sheffield and Doncaster. This plan would adversely affect rail services at, of all places, Mexborough, the point at which HS2 has the highest residential impact in Yorkshire and is a typical example of an infrastructure upgrade arising from the HS2 proposals that would be needed to ‘‘make the most’’ of HS2. The cost would be met by others and the impact is excluded from the HS2 business case.
HS2, a fast train to the South with few station-stops, is a prime example of infrastructure investment that is heavily skewed towards the benefit of London.