august-19-01Controversial new high-speed railway projects in Britain could cost as much as £80 billion to complete, economists are warning. An in-depth study from the Institute of Economic Affairs claims that the cost of major rail projects in Britain is likely to be far higher than what many people have been led to believe.

The study claims that the projected costs of the high-speed rail network have been ‘drastically underestimated’ in order to increase its political appeal. The claim has come shortly after the Department of Transport, which is overseeing the project’s development, claimed that its own pricing estimate might have been incorrect.

The Department of Transport adjusted its projected cost from £33 billion upwards to £43 billion. The project involves a high-speed rail link between Birmingham and London that is projected to be in operation by 2026, and a rail service to Manchester and Leeds from London that will be completed by 2032.

The Institute, however, claims that the total cost of the rail network is likely to reach upwards of £80 billion, making the rail link a significantly more expensive choice for the government. The report, which is 58 pages long, is the largest independent study into the high-speed rail service to have been completed since its announcement.

The report goes on to claim that the service will likely deliver terrible value to users and taxpayers due to the necessity of building additional tunnels and changing route maps. Local residents along the rail line have complained that the trains will create a noisy environment and that the route should be diverted around major cities.

Other concerns addressed by the report include the likelihood of local city councils campaigning for grants and other financial incentives to place commercial districts close to the rail stations. The report claims that the £80 billion spend on HS2 could result in a 500 percent return on investment if spent on road and standard rail.

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