Most London business leaders believe HS2 is too expensive – survey

By Alan Jones, PA Industrial Correspondent

Most business leaders in London believe the HS2 high-speed rail project costs too much and will cause too much disruption while being built, a study suggests.

A survey of 500 businesses in the capital indicated that only two out of five believe the line would boost the UK economy.

The London Chamber of Commerce said its poll found that nearly three quarters of business leaders think HS2 costs too much and two thirds feel its construction has or will cause too much disruption.

Almost half did not believe that HS2 was necessary.

Construction work at Old Oak Common, in west London, where underground platforms for HS2 will link with Elizabeth line (Crossrail) trains, to Heathrow and central London (Aaron Chown/PA)

Peter Bishop, chief executive of London Chamber of Commerce, said: “With nearly three quarters of businesses voicing concern about the growing cost of the project, this new polling will be of significant interest to the ongoing Government review.

“It is important to note that London businesses see merits in the project for both London and the UK.

“However, majority concern about its necessity, costs and disruption, leave a clear challenge for the promoters of the project to effectively convey that the project is worth its mounting cost.”

Northern Powerhouse Partnership director Henri Murison said: “The Chambers of Commerce across the North and their members are united and clear – we need both HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail delivered in full to rebalance the UK economy and create opportunities for business investment and growth.

“Once again, we are seeing a London-based organisation ignore the views held up here as if they do not matter. The benefits of HS2 have in fact been significantly underestimated by the failure to factor in the added value of doing this whilst also building Northern Powerhouse Rail and pursuing wider industrial strategy to close the North-South divide.

“Perhaps some of these business people should try getting between Birmingham and Leeds, or around the North on lines unable to cope with the volume of trains. The whole country needs HS2 to level up the UK economy – North and London businesses should be coming together to make an unanswerable case to Government as the significant business-led group London First has done with us on many previous occasions.”

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