The Institute of Directors says HS2 plans are 'not value for money'

The Institute of Directors (IoD) has joined those calling for HS2 to be scrapped, branding the £50bn rail project 'a grand folly'

Opposition to the Government’s £42bn high-speed rail line is mounting after estimated cost rose by more than £8bn
Opposition to the Government's high-speed rail line is mounting

The Institute of Directors (IoD) has joined those calling for HS2 to be scrapped, branding the £50bn rail project 'a grand folly'.

A survey of IoD members found just 27% feel the high-speed project represents good value for money and 70% say it will have no impact on the productivity of their business.

The survey also showed there was little enthusiasm for the project even in the regions where the benefits are supposed to be strongest. In August 2011 a survey of IoD members found 54% rated HS2 important to their business. That has fallen to 41%.

The IoD scepticism over the scheme, which will see a London to Birmingham phase completed around 2026, follows a report last week by the Institute for Economic Affairs (IEA) which said the cost of HS2 could be as high as �80bn.

There were also reports that the Treasury was working on a figure as high as �73bn for the project which cuts through Tory heartlands in the Chilterns, with a Y-shaped scheme due to take the line to North East and North-West England around 2032.

After the IEA report, former Labour chancellor Alistair Darling came out strongly against the project. Others who have expressed reservations have included former Labour industry secretary Lord Mandelson.

The IoD said that a central part of the Government’s current economic case for HS2 was that time spent on a train is unproductive. But the IoD said its research showed that this assumption was ‘wildly inaccurate’, as only 6% of directors say they never work on a train.

Commenting on the research, IoD director general Simon Walker said: “Businesses know value for money when they see it, and our research shows they don’t see it in the Government’s case for HS2.

“Some of the specific claims that the Government has used to support its economic case for the project have been challenged by our members, who by and large do not feel that their business will benefit.”

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