There will not be many UKIP members who feel HS2 is a good way to spend Fifty Billion Pounds. Most want to see this ill-founded project tipped in the dustbin of history: Britain has severe transport infrastructure issues – our trade and travel arteries are throttled. So, how could we better spend it on solving that issue?
Facts always help. Look at the motorway mileage in UK compared to our European neighbours. Germany has 150 motorway kilometres per million people, France 176 and Holland 140, while we have just 60. Even little Cyprus has 283 kilometres for 1.1 million people. It’s scandalous: we see the effects of this every day we drive to work, when we go on business trips or on holidays. All it takes is one accident, one set of roadworks, or one badly designed junction to cause massive congestion, costing this country dearly in productivity.
So, I suggest we should consider increasing our motorway mileage by 50%, from 2200 to 3300: motorways cost an average of £30 million a mile to build so that comes to £33 Billion, leaving some change for pragmatic rail improvements. The cost could be phased, as build periods for each motorway are around 2 years, and benefits are therefore delivered incrementally, as opposed to more than 10 years for the dubious benefits of HS2.
We need to emulate the German system of parallel motorways, to duplicate much of the heavily congested M1, M3, M4, M6 and M8. Additionally, poorly designed junctions need investment, such as the M1, M6 and A14 intersection in south-west Leicestershire.
We also need to relieve other major bottlenecks, like the M25. This nightmare road serves both long-distance traffic and intra-London traffic. The road engineers originally planned two M25s – one looking inwards and one outwards, each of them three lanes. The Treasury rejected their idea for an inward-looking one, saying “motorways are for trunk traffic” which totally ignored the reality as we saw within weeks of opening. With Londoners using it for journeys like Harrow to Heathrow instead of using the already congested London suburban roads it quickly became jam-packed. The two M25s are needed so that trunk traffic which wants to avoid London traffic can flow freely.
I hear the naysayers already: “what about the planning process and the NIMBYs?” Experience tells us that other than some greenies tying themselves to trees, most people welcome a motorway nearby as they will actually be able to use it for their benefit, while something like HS2 only brings local disbenefits.
With these measures, we can get Britain moving again, on our way as a great worldwide trading nation.