Following the Government’s decision to go ahead with the HS2 project, the Institute of Directors is warning that many businesses still need convincing that the £32 billion line is worth the cost, or should be prioritised ahead of other rail improvements.
A recent survey of over 1,000 IoD members found mixed views on HS2:
• 79% think that investment in improving existing intercity services is important to their business, compared with 54% who think that high speed rail investment is important. Significantly, in every region a greater proportion of IoD members think that existing intercity upgrades are important to their business.
• 38% think that the public spending required to build HS2 would represent poor value for money, compared with 30% who think it would represent good value. Two fifths (40%) of West Midlands members think that the public spending required to build HS2 would represent good value for money, compared with 41% who think it would represent poor value.
• 48% think that increases in airport capacity outside London and the South East would have a positive impact on the productivity of their business; 40% think the same for increased airport capacity in London and the South East, and just 23% agree that a new high speed rail line between Birmingham and London would improve their productivity.
• IoD members unsure on whether HS2 provides good value for money.
• In every UK region, IoD members think that improvements to existing intercity services are more important to their business.
Graeme Leach, Director of Policy at the IoD, said: "HS2 now looks almost certain to go ahead, but businesses still need convincing of the merits of the project. In all regions, IoD members think that improvements to existing intercity services are more important to their businesses. It’s true that you can’t add capacity to current lines indefinitely, but there are still a lot of uncertainties about the business case for HS2.”
The IoD conducted a Policy Voice poll of 1,245 members in August 2011. Directors were asked for their views on the existing state of the UK’s transport infrastructure and their priorities for new investment.