Published: 10th Sep 2013
A new e-petition has been established that calls for the money set aside for the High Speed 2 (HS2) rail line to be invested in broadband instead.
Some £42.6 billion is expected to be spent on the project that will initially connect Birmingham and London via a new high-speed rail line, before being extended to Manchester and Leeds.
However, the plans have proved highly controversial and have attracted widespread criticism from a range of groups who question whether such an expensive development is necessary and believe the money could be better spent elsewhere.
One such protester is Michael Coults, who has established the e-petition. He has called for the HS2 project to be scrapped completely with the money reinvested in broadband to make the UK "one of the fastest and best connected countries in the world with a future proof technology in place".
Mr Coults claimed improving internet access in Britain would do more to improve the economy and said the nation currently lags behind countries such as South Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, Switzerland and Latvia, which are regarded as the most connected in the world at present.
He added the cost of boosting broadband services in the UK has been estimated at between £16 and £22 billion, which means there would still be a significant amount of funding left over that could be used on other projects that would benefit the country as a whole rather than just certain regions.
Mr Coults is not the first person to suggest the government would be better off spending its HS2 money on broadband, as business think tank NEF called for such action in June.
The organisation claimed investing in internet access would reduce the need for inter-city travel and bring wider-reaching benefits to the country as a whole.
"We urge the government, as custodians of our scarce public resources, to step back from blindly pushing this one flashy, train project and assess our options fully," NEF stated.
The coalition appears to remain committed to HS2 despite this criticism and people hoping for improved online access may be better off switching to satellite broadband.
Posted by Mark Wynn
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