Stop HS2 and spend money improving cycling, say think tank

Pressure on George Osborne from New Economics Foundation

The government should scrap plans for the controversial, £33bn HS2 high speed rail project and spend the cash on other projects, including better cycling infrastructure, say the New Economics Foundation

The think tank said today that the coalition government have used oversimplified modelling to estimate demand for the rail line that will link London to Birmingham and cities in the north, the country’s biggest ever infrastructure project. Instead, the money could be better spent overhauling existing train lines, rolling out super-fast broadband connections and spending £2bn making cities outside London better for cycling and walking.

The report comes in the run-up to the comprehensive spending review next week, where chancellor George Osborne is expected to announce cuts to government department budgets.

The Department for Transport, responsible for funding most cycling projects, could be hit hard. Reports have already emerged that London mayor Boris Johnson is fighting for up to £600m to fund his Vision for Cycling in the capital.

Last week, the CTC said Osborne should allocate funds to local authorities to repair the UK’s potholed roads. Chief executive Gordon Seabright said, “If councils can be encouraged to look at introducing new cycle facilities whenever a road is being resurfaced, that would be a really cost-effective way of helping more people to discover cycling’s benefits – for their health, their quality of life and their wallets.”

Earlier this year, the Asphalt Industry Alliance estimated that £10.5bn was needed to fix cracked and crumbling roads around the UK.

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