High speed rail announcement11 Mar 2010

Billions for rail but what for roads?

A new high speed rail line costing taxpayers tens of billions of pounds will do nothing to improve the daily journeys of the vast majority of the country’s travelling public.

The proposed north-south link also fails to deliver the climate change benefits and reduced road congestion many people hoped for and it offers significantly less value for money than most road schemes.

Commenting on today’s release of the HS2 report, Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, said:

“Given that a new line won’t open until at least 2025, what are our politicians going to do about the capacity crisis we face across the road and rail networks in the next fifteen years as the population grows and the economy recovers? More than 90% of daily trips take place on already congested roads and lavishing billions of pounds on a high speed rail service to benefit the wealthy few who will use the service is not going to change that reality.

“Looked at in isolation this scheme has some merit, with shorter journey times and less crowding for rail passengers going to and from the Midlands. But in the context of this country’s huge transport and public funding problems it makes much less sense. It will cost vast amounts of taxpayers’ money and only benefit a small number of higher-income passengers. Those who support high speed rail must, if they are consistent, also support a major increase in public investment in our roads infrastructure.

 “For most people, most of the time, the car is public transport, and policy makers must recognise this.”


Philip Gomm – Head of External Communications – RAC Foundation
020 7747 3486 / 07711 776448 – [email protected]