The ‘costly and inefficient’ HS2 programme should be scrapped after figures showed it will cost the taxpayer in excess of £50bn, a think tank has claimed.
The Adam Smith Institute branded the scheme ‘economically irresponsible’ in a new paper out today.
It said HS2 will cost nine times more per mile than high speed tracks in France and - with off-peak occupancy levels well below 50% - will deliver ‘rock bottom’ returns.
Instead, the think tank said the Government should focus on schemes like the electrification of the TransPennine Railway and the London-Sheffield mainline in order to achieve its Northern Powerhouse agenda.
The paper also calls for the Government to sell off 49.9% of Network Rail to replicate the success of the privatisation of the National Grid worth over £35bn.
Adam Smith Institute fellow and author of the paper, Nigel Hawkins, said: ‘Action to sort out Britain's railways is a priority. Radical decisions are needed to deliver financial competence, sensible investment and improved customer benefits into the system.
‘Scrapping the shockingly expensive HS2, selling up to 49.9% of Network Rail and cracking down on under-performing franchises are priorities.’