Is spending £55.7bn on the high-speed railway really the best way to ‘rebalance the economy’ and deliver a ‘jobs bonanza’?

‘HS2 was always designed to be much more than just a high-speed railway and today we can see the opportunities it brings right around the country – spreading prosperity, acting as a catalyst for investment and rebalancing our economy 10 years before the railway even opens,” said David Higgins, chairman of the high-speed railway, as the first construction contracts were awarded on Monday.

We’ll have to get used to self-serving boasts in this style. The most irritating part is the invitation to think that it’s OK to spend £55.7bn on a high-speed railway – the last official budget – if the construction spreads a little peace, love and rebalancing on the way.

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