€9.5bn diverted from HS2 to rebuild UK roads
17 November 2023
The UK government has announced plans to redirect approximately €9.5 billion from the cancelled second phase of the HS2 rail mega project, to rebuild the country’s damaged roads.
At the time of its cancellation, estimates for the total cost of the project had reached approximately €125 billion – up from the original estimate of €43 billion.
UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced that phase 2 would be cancelled at the beginning of October, promising that funds would be redirected to more effective projects.
This week, transport secretary Mark Harper announced the allocation of the €9.5 billion tranche of funds, with an 11-year plan to identify damaged roads throughout England, including, for the first time in 8 years, in London.
Harper said, “Today’s biggest-ever funding uplift for local road improvements is a victory for all road users, who will enjoy smoother, faster and safer trips – as we use redirected HS2 funding to make the right long-term decisions for a brighter future.”
In an effort to ensure the funds are used effectively and efficiently, local authorities will be required to publish their spending strategies online on a regular basis.
Simon Williams of the breakdown services firm RAC said, “We hope local authorities will use the money in the most effective way possible by resurfacing the very worst roads, keeping those in reasonable condition in better states for longer through surface dressing and filling potholes as permanently as possible wherever necessary.”
The fallout from the scrapping of HS2 is currently causing a huge backlash for the government, with the price of land alone along the route estimated at close to €700 million.
When announcing the scrapping of phase 2, Rishi Sunak said approximately €41 billion would be set aside for transport projects in the Midlands and northern parts of the country.
Further savings to made from the London area, he said, would be diverted into local transport initiatives outside the capital.