A business expert has called on the Government to abandon the HS2 high-speed rail project, calling it a “grand folly”.
Simon Walker, director general of the Institute of Directors, was speaking after a survey of the association’s members revealed they are not convinced by the economic case for HS2.
A survey of IoD members found that 27 per cent felt the project represented good value for money, and 70 per cent said the scheme will have no impact on the productivity of their business.
If built, the line will cut through south Northamptonshire, between Brackley and Upper Boddington. South Northamptonshire MP Andrea Leadsom is a fierce opponent of the scheme, but Northampton South MP and rail activist Brian Binley supports it.
Mr Walker said: “The IoD cannot support the Government’s current economic case for HS2 when so many of our members are doubtful of the benefits.
“We agree with the need for key infrastructure spending, but the business case for HS2 simply is not there. The money would be far better spent elsewhere and in a way that will benefit much more of the country.
“Investment in the West and East Coast main lines combined with a variety of other infrastructure projects would be a far more sensible option.
“Station upgrades, inter-city improvements, tunnels, electrification and capacity improvements should all be considered alternatives.
“It is time for the Government to look at a thousand smaller projects instead of falling for one grand folly.”
Ron Lynch, IoD East Midlands regional director, added: “Businesses in the East Midlands and up and down the country know value for money when they see it, and our research shows that they don’t see it in the Government’s case for HS2.
“The opinion of IoD members is broadly similar across the country, and in no region of the UK do more than 35 per cent think HS2 represents good value for money.”
The claims have been pounced upon by the anti-high-speed rail campaign group, Stop HS2.
Campaign manager Joe Rukin said: “The IoD is another independent organisation in a very long line of groups which, if the Governments claims about HS2 stood up to scrutiny, would be supporting it, but they are not.”