Sunday 12 January 2020 3:06 pm

Three-quarters of London businesses think HS2 is too expensive

Almost three-quarters, 74 per cent, of London businesses think the controversial HS2 rail line has become too expensive, according to new polling.

The Savanta ComRes/London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) poll also found that 64 per cent of the capital’s business leaders thought “the project has or will cause too much disruption”.

Read more: Dissenting HS2 report revives calls for government to release official review

It comes alongside results showing that 46 per cent think the the high speed rail line is unnecessary, against 40 per cent who think it’s necessary.

Fifty-four per cent of those polled said they were “uncertain” of what the benefits would be, while 43 per cent said they thought it would have a positive impact on London’s economy.

The high speed rail line – which would link up London, Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester – is uncertain to go ahead as expected costs have spiralled from an estimated £56bn to as much as £107bn.

Commenting on the results of the polling, LCCI chief executive Peter Bishop said: “With nearly three-quarters of businesses voicing concern about the growing cost of the project, this new polling will be of significant interest to the ongoing government review.  

“It is important to note that London businesses see merits in the project for both London and the UK.

“However, majority concern about its necessity, costs and disruption, leave a clear challenge for the promoters of the project to effectively convey that the project is worth its mounting cost.”

Henri Murison, director of advocacy group Northern Powerhouse Partnership, criticised the LCCI for not taking into account views of northern business leaders.

“Once again, we are seeing a London-based organisation ignore the views held up here as if they do not matter,” he said.

“Perhaps some of these business people should try getting between Birmingham and Leeds, or around the North on lines unable to cope with the volume of trains.

“North and London businesses should be coming together to make an unanswerable case to government as the significant business-led group London First has done with us on many previous occasions.”

Boris Johnson will soon make a final decision on the project, taking into account advice from an independent review.

The full findings of the review, led by Douglas Oakervee, have yet to be fully released, however parts were leaked to the press indicating that it supports HS2 going ahead.

The leaks caused fury by deputy head of the review Lord Tony Berkeley, who asked for his name to be taken off the report.

Berkeley told City A.M. last month that the report was a “whitewash” and he had been shut out because of his growing opposition to the project in the face of escalating costs.

Read more: MPs were ‘misled’ on HS2 costs, says deputy of government review

He published his own report into the project last week, claiming the benefit to the taxpayer was “well below the break-even point”.

HS2 Ltd. declined the opportunity to comment.