HS2

Meeting: 
MQT on 2014-03-19
Session date: 
March 19, 2014
Reference: 
2014/1679
Question By: 
Richard Tracey
Organisation: 
GLA Conservatives
Asked Of: 
The Mayor

Question

Given that you stated last month that HS2 has a worse business case than Crossrail 2 and that both have a worse business case than a new Estuary Airport, does the news that HS2 legislation won't be through Parliament before the General Election give you hope that taxpayers' money will be spent as wisely as possible?

Supplementary Questions: 

Answer

Answer for HS2

Answer for HS2

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Yes, thanks very much, Richard.  Your question really is about the relative merits of HS2, Crossrail 2 and a new airport and other schemes.  My view, as I have made clear many times before is that HS2 is not a bad scheme, it is not the best scheme that you could be pursuing.  Right now Crossrail 2 has a business case of about four to one that it is a much better project from that point of view.  A new airport is absolutely indispensable for our future commercial success as a nation, so both those rate high.  That does not mean that I think HS2 is a bad project.  As I was saying earlier on, one of the things that this country is going to do well in now is when the London effect starts to spin out across the rest of the country.  You are starting to see it, the more connections there are the better the connectivity between London and the north, the better it will be all round.

 

Richard Tracey AM:  Were you surprised that the David Higgins [Chief Executive, Network Rail] Report on Monday did not find significantly lower costs?  I thought that was what he was promising to do.  Perhaps it is early days.

 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  I think David is always a pretty realistic cost assessor.  If you think about what he did with the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) budget, he basically decided quite a long way out that the £2.5 billion that we were initially promised was not really going to be realistic. He went for the £9.3 billion and he delivered it for under £9.3 billion, so I think we can take his figures as being solid.

 

Richard Tracey AM:  Presumably though, in the long term, it actually makes sense to link up High Speed 1 (HS1) and HS2, does it not?

 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Yes, of course it does, because the medium-term future is obviously to exploit the incredible things that are happening in the east of London and all the opportunity areas there.  Ebbsfleet is now going to be a new town.  You are going to need the connectivity out to that part of the world, and you are going to need Crossrail 2.  What you do not need, this will be controversial, but the business case I have not yet seen, is for lots of people wanting to travel on the same train from Manchester to Brussels or Lille.  I have not seen them.  Maybe there are, but I do not think you would fill more than a train a day with that kind of traffic.  I might be wrong about that, people might object, but I do not see much evidence for that.  The HS1/HS2 link has to be got right, but it does not need, in my view, to be got right for that purpose.

 

Richard Tracey AM:  Did you also find it interesting and perhaps agree with what David Higgins said that maybe work should start in the north at the same time as in the south, or indeed possibly start the whole project in the north?

 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  I am not sure that is what David was saying.

 

Richard Tracey AM:  He was certainly pointing to the north --

 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  I think the story was spun that way but I think what he actually said was that you should begin with the Birmingham to London link.

 

Richard Tracey AM:  Do you believe that perhaps bringing the north forward might be a good idea?

 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  I think you have to get it all done and, as I understood what he was saying, looking at it closely, he was saying do the Birmingham to London link and then do the ‘Y’ up to Manchester and Leeds.

 

Darren Johnson (Chair):  Thank you.