Others claim the money would be better spent on improving the existing railways. This has effectively been the British rail policy for decades, and the result has been painfully slow progress. In 1938 the Mallard managed 126 mph and took six and a half hours from London to Edinburgh. Today the journey still takes five hours, and our trains manage 140 mph. Without new track, faster trains will still get stuck behind the slow trains, and the poor state of the track prevents new trains from reaching their top speed.
Meanwhile a report by the Institute of Economic Affairs has deemed it “highly unlikely” that HS2 would bring about a significant economic boost to the north. The IEA reached this conclusion on the basis that HS1, the high speed Eurostar link from London to Paris and Brussels, had not brought significant growth or jobs to East Kent. This comparison is unfair, given that the objective of HS1 was to improve rail travel to the continent.