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Thinktank says HS2 cash could be used for broadband rollouts

Tuesday, June 18th 2013 by Hannah Langston
Spend HS2 cash on broadband improvements and other projects, says thinktank NEF

Money for the HS2 rail project could be used to deliver ultra-fast broadband across the country, the NEF has argued.

A leading thinktank has thrown its weight behind calls for the government to divide its £33 billion budget for the High-Speed 2 (HS2) rail network among a range of other projects, including improvements to the country's broadband infrastructure.

The New Economics Foundation (NEF) accepted that the objectives of the HS2 project cannot be faulted, but questioned whether it makes sense to plough such a huge sum of money into a single initiative.

"Spreading the same budget across many smaller, more robust schemes would positively transform the UK's broader transport landscape," the organisation explained.

Its new report, High Speed 2: the best we can do?, suggests spending £5.5 billion of the total budget on rolling out ultra-fast 'to-the-door' broadband across the country. This would help businesses and reduce the need for unnecessary travel by allowing people to communicate via other means, such as video conferencing.

Furthermore, the NEF called for an allocation of £10 billion for upgrading existing north-south rail links, a further £10 billion to overhaul regional rail connections, £6 billion for bus and light rail improvements, and £2 billion for better biking and walking infrastructure.

The NEF's report comes just days after TalkTalk and Carphone Warehouse Chairman Sir Charles Dunstone told Computer Weekly that a chunk of HS2 cash should be redirected towards the rollout of fibre optic broadband.

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