Industry leaders warn of stagnating UK economy if the scheme is shelved

High Speed Train

The Treasury will pocket the cash earmarked for the £43bn HS2 project if it is cancelled rather than spend it upgrading the existing network, a report by industry experts including Bechtel and Atkins has warned.

The report by the High Speed Rail Industry Leaders Group, which includes Parsons Brinkerhoff, Siemens, Atkins and Bechtel among others, said it was “unlikely” spending on the mega project would be replicated across the existing network if HS2 was cancelled.

It said it was more likely that most of the cash would be used to write-down national debt instead.

The project has, so far, enjoyed broad cross-party support but senior Labour voices have voiced concerns about the scheme and said it would be subject to a review if the party is elected in 2015. Meanwhile, pressure groups have advocated for the money to be spent on upgrading the existing transport network or used to fund alternative scheme.

The report also said that cancelling the project would result in a “stagnating” UK economy, lack of regeneration of the Midlands and the North and a loss of jobs.

The report also concluded it would stifle investment in the UK and hamper UK businesses because of a lack of freight capacity.

The report, due to be published today, said: “Abandoning the project now will mean we have to revisit the same problems and implement a similar solution at a later date and at a much higher cost. No-one can want to see this happen.”

Steve Scrimshaw, ‎managing director of rail systems UK at Siemens, said: “HS2 is about so much more than reducing journey times between London and Birmingham. It is about a once in a generation, transformational opportunity to reconnect Britain and revitalise our busy rail network.

“The advantages of this cannot be overstated.”