Rising Costs Threaten to Thwart UK High-Speed Rail

Britain's grand plan to halve travel times between the country's biggest cities and expand economic growth outside London via high-speed rail is getting pushback from the very places it's meant to help.
August 11, 2013, 5am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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"A proposed high-speed railroad known as HS2 is Britain’s biggest and most controversial transportation plan, a Continental-style 'grand projet' meant to ease crowded trains and congested tracks, reduce automobile traffic and generate economic growth," writes Stephen Castle. 

"Yet as cost estimates have risen — the budget now stands at £42.6 billion, or $65.8 billion — so has opposition to the project. And some of the strongest resistance comes from the very parts of the north that HS2 is supposed to help."

For instance, Peter Box, leader of Wakefield Council, "argues that highway repairs and upgraded regional rail links should be higher priorities than HS2, which he worries may mainly benefit the south. Instead of attracting investment and talent to the northern regions, he said, HS2 may simply funnel more people and prosperity into London."

"Some critics agree, noting that when Japan and South Korea built their high-speed rail systems, the economic gap between those countries’ capitals and outlying cities widened," notes Castle.

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Published on Thursday, August 8, 2013 in The New York Times
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