HS2 should be scrapped and the money spent of rolling out fibre broadband for everyone in the UK, according to IT entrepreneur.
ANS Group founder Scott Fletcher said the benefit to the UK economy by offering everyone superfast broadband far outweighed those by building the HS2 railway.
The high-speed rail link between London, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds will cost upwards of £45 billion.
“I just cannot accept that spending that amount of money on cutting a journey time from London to Birmingham by 20 minutes will have anything like the financial benefits that are claimed for HS2,” said Fletcher.
“Superfast Fibre-to-the-Premises broadband would be of immense benefit to British business in the short term and would accelerate the development of new technology in the long term,” Fletcher added.
The cloud computing company founder said that better internet connectivity will be vital for digital business.
“The way we conduct business is rapidly changing and will continue to change in the future. The only thing that we can predict for certain is that the fast interchange of data will be an essential feature of the digital age,” he said.
“The need for face-to-face business meetings, and hence the need for superfast trains, will become less important in a world that is more dependent on digital conferencing and mobile computing devices.”
“By the time the first phase of HS2 becomes operational in 2026 it may well be now more than a quaint obsolescence,” he said.
Transport minister Patrick McLoughlin told the House of Commons that HS2 would be producing ‘around £50 billion worth of economic benefits once it is up and running’ but even the National Audit Office disputes this figure.
“If this country is to see any benefit from HS2 we should be accelerating growth and employment in the new technology centres in the north of England. We should be planning to build the railway from north to south and not the other way round,” said Mr Fletcher.
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