Scrap HS2 and get Wisbech to March rail line open says Taxpayers' Alliance who lists Fens scheme as one of 28 that could be financed
PUBLISHED: 19:18 15 May 2019
Scrapping the high speed HS2 train link could pave the way for the Government to fund 28 local and national infrastructure projects - including the Wisbech to March rail link.
That's the conclusion of an influential lobby group, the Taxpayers Alliance, who coincidentally invited one of Steve Barclay's predecessors as Brexit secretary, David Davies, to launch the report at a parliamentary reception.
The alliance says the Government would free up some £50 billion by pulling out of HS2 - and a beneficiary could be the Bramley Line.
Recent estimates put the cost of re-opening the line at £100 million - small change in the greater scheme of Government spending.
First opened in 1862, the Bramley Line linked March and Wisbech but was closed to passengers in 1968 and freight services in 2000.
The line is currently mothballed but much of the track and track bed remains in place and major studies for its possible re-opening are in progress.
The Taxpayers' Alliance says a number of options for rolling stock are available, including VivaRail Class 230s or the Parry People Movers Class 139s.
With the prospect of 10,000 to 12,000 homes planned for Wisbech "good transport links will be essential to support the area's local and wider economies".
The alliance says current costs of the project are £110 million and a timescale of four to five years is achievable.
Wisbech got on the list released by the Taxpayers'' Alliance after they had run The Great British Transport Competition to find popular alternatives to HS2.
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Taxpayers'' Alliance chief executive John O'Connell said: "We have long argued that HS2 is a waste of taxpayers' money and this report makes that fact even clearer.
"Instead of spending £56 billion on a vanity project, the government should heed this report. Given the number of excellent alternatives, it's now time to scrap this white elephant."
An alliance spokesman said: "The case for scrapping High Speed 2 (HS2) gets stronger by the day.
"Increasingly, people from across the political spectrum are waking up to the fundamental issues which have plagued this project. Whether it is the spiralling costs, environmental damage, consistent mismanagement or overwhelming unpopularity of the project, the tide is turning against HS2."
The alliance says it asked all interested parties from across the United Kingdom to submit ideas for transport infrastructure projects.
The judges for the competition included surveyors, engineers, accountants, politicians and transport industry experts.
Judging began in early January and was concluded by early March.
"After many hours of detailed deliberation and discussion, 28 winning entries were chosen and the sum total of their construction costs came to £45.1 billion," said the spokesman.
"We were incredibly impressed by the high standard and variety of the entries we received. What particularly stood out was that many of the entries required only relatively small sums of money to achieve vast benefits for local communities.
"Taken together, we believe these projects would dramatically transform the transport infrastructure of the nation and have a real impact on many peoples' lives, all for less than the cost of HS2."