The Chairman of the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) believes an extra £43 billion needs to be spent on HS2 to make the project worthwhile.
Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, Sir John Armitt said that construction alone will not provide “the biggest bang for our buck.”
The scheme is due to cost £56 billion, but recent assessments from the Cabinet Office believe this is “highly likely” to increase by 60%, taking the total cost past the £80 billion mark.
As one of the most significant infrastructure projects in a generation, HS2 has been met with opposition from those who say it is an unnecessary expenditure that won’t solve the problems it is supposed to, all the while damaging wildlife across the 330-mile route.
Sir John said the investment is needed in order to tackle what he described as “inadequate public transport links” around the major stations in the West Midlands, London, Manchester and Leeds that will all be serviced by the line.
The NIC’s Chairman said therefore that local councils and government must invest further.
“HS2 is the most significant investment in the capacity and connectivity of our transport networks for a generation or more. The potential impact could extend 100 years or more, and its upfront costs should be considered in that context.
“But this also means we cannot simply construct a new high speed rail line and leave it at that: to get the biggest bang for our buck, we need to think about the whole journey.”
It is in this context that Sir John wants ministers to increase the investment for cities which will help to foster new infrastructure programmes in those fastest growing and more congested cities.
He added: “all this would mean the UK’s cities outside London receiving a £43 billion boost in funding up to 2040,” something, Sir John says, will help to “make the most of all that HS2 will have to offer.”