HS2 'losers' revealed as report shows potential impact

Map of the proposed HS2 route KPMG's report listed the regions that would benefit, but left out the rest

Related Stories

The potential losses to some regional economies from the HS2 high-speed rail link have been revealed.

HS2 would make more than 50 places across the UK worse off - such as Aberdeen, Bristol and Cardiff - research by KPMG suggested.

The government said HS2's £17bn cost is part of a £73bn package of transport improvements in the next parliament.

It claimed the measures would benefit areas which HS2 will not serve, long before the high-speed line opens.

The 92-page KPMG report was released in September.

Hailed by the government, it said the line could boost the UK economy by £15bn a year.

It listed the regions it said would benefit, with Greater London (£2.8bn) and West Midlands (£1.5bn) the biggest winners.

But, the extent to which regions not on the proposed line would be affected was only revealed following a freedom of information request passed to BBC Two's Newsnight programme.

HS2 Ltd's chief executive has called the figures "unsurprising".

Start Quote

What this is showing is that the places that are on the high-speed network... those are the places that will benefit most from HS2”

End Quote Alison Munro Chief executive, HS2 Ltd

Economic output would be worst affected, according to the research, in:

  • Aberdeenshire, Aberdeen City and Moray (-£220m)
  • Norfolk East (-£164m)
  • Dundee and Angus (-£96m)
  • Cardiff (-£68m)
  • Norfolk West (-£56m)

James Bream, policy director of Aberdeen's Chamber of Commerce, said it was "really disappointing" that such a huge number was left out of the original report.

He added the negative impact for the whole north-east of Scotland could be "significant to say the least."

Dundee and Angus could lose as much as 2% of its annual GDP, KPMG found.

Kettering, Suffolk West and Cambridgeshire East are all listed as zones that could see a 1% drop in GDP.

The accountants used data from HS2 Ltd's assessment of the direct transport impacts of the scheme, which would connect London to Birmingham and to Manchester and Leeds.

The Department for Transport said HS2 was vital to "rebalance the economy".

A spokesman said: "These figures show it boosts the north overall more than the south.

"Of course the line does not serve every city and region and these figures reflect that."

The DfT say ultimately the line would reduce journey times to Edinburgh and Glasgow by an hour.

Graphic showing how HS2 will reduce journey times: London-Birmingham 35 minute saving; London-Nottingham 35 minute saving; London-Sheffield 46 minute saving; London-Leeds 50 minute saving; London-Manchester 60 minute saving.

KPMG said its report clearly shows the benefits of HS2 for some regions and the negative impacts it might have on others.

A spokesman said: "Maps in the report show potential productivity gains would outweigh the potential losses and the benefits to the UK economy would be far greater than the negative impacts.

"Newsnight did not contact KPMG prior to its programme.

"If they had, we could have helped them understand how the underlying data is represented in the report we have produced."

Professor Henry Overman from the London School of Economics - formerly an expert adviser to HS2 Ltd - told the BBC it was obvious that, as some cities, towns and regions reap the benefits of being better connected, other places away from the line will pay a price.

"When a firm is thinking of where to locate, it thinks about the relative productivity of different places, and the relative wages etc," he said.

"HS2 shifts that around. So if you are on the line that makes you a better place that hasn't had that productivity improvement."


John Bridge, from Cambridgeshire Chamber of Commerce, says he's concerned infrastructure projects in his area may miss out because of HS2

But Newsnight's political correspondent David Grossman said there were "questions about the robustness" of the data.

The chief executive of HS2 Ltd, Alison Munro, said: "What this is showing is that the places that are on the high-speed network... those are the places that will benefit most from high-speed two.

"But high-speed two isn't the only investment that the government is making. Over the next five years it is planning to spend £73bn on transport infrastructure."

Richard Houghton, from campaign group HS2 Action Alliance, claimed the whole project is based on "voodoo economics".

He said: "If I was sitting in one of the 50 areas set to lose out to the tune of millions of pounds, I would be asking very clear questions."

PDF download HS2 FOI request[97kb]


More on This Story

Related Stories


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 336.

    Why should HS2 terminate at Euston, when HS1 operates from St Pancras? The two should come together in one place to facilitate through journeys from the North to Europe without passengers having to drag their luggage along Euston Road.

    This one fact shows how ill-conceived is the whole project.

  • rate this

    Comment number 283.

    Economic benefit on the whole for the UK though. View this with a bit of optimism. Think of the contracts awarded and jobs potentially created from this, the building and maintaining of the line(s). We needed Chinese investment for plants to simultaneously work on two large projects.

    Long term vision, better infrastructure, industry and more £££ for the United Kingdom

  • rate this

    Comment number 235.

    This project might have its virtues but at this time of austerity its the last thing the public find acceptable. The money proposed should come from business subscription as it is apparently for their benefit. There has been no info on who will own or run the track so it is logical to assume it will be the business that use it. Let business pay for it. Leave the tax payer out of it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 147.

    Why not just electrify existing diesel-dependent lines? This is going to happen on the London-Sheffield line, cutting 9 mins off the time to Derby for example.

  • rate this

    Comment number 120.

    It speaks volumes that the "HS2 Journey times" table above assumes we all want to know the times from London. We don't.

    Personally I'm tired of subsidising that city. Yes, improve rail links, but do it for the rest of the country - which already suffers on a daily basis from the south-centric attitude of the decision makers.

    There is far more to the UK than just London.


Comments 5 of 10


More UK stories


Features & Analysis

Elsewhere on the BBC

  • TravelAround the world

    BBC Travel takes a look at the most striking images from the past seven days


  • A bicycle with a Copenhagen WheelClick Watch

    The wheel giving push bikes an extra boost by turning them into smart electric hybrids

Try our new site and tell us what you think. Learn more
Take me there

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.