Monday, 23 September 2013

HS2 - The (Rail) Road to Financial Hell is Paved with Good Intentions

The party's (supposed) support for this project in a time of straightened finances is clearly inconsistent. The budget restraints which we have suffered over recent years have been due to the crushing debt burden inherited from the feckless Labour regime. How can an open-ended HS2 project be justified at prices ranging from £21.4bn to £80bn?

http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2013/sep/09/hs2-plans-unrealistic-costly-parliamentary-report

Moreover this amount of money is going solely for one project. It solves only a small number of transport problems and in a traditional fashion produces a glitzy one-off end-product while other parts of the rail system puff along in declining Victorian splendour.

Some locals (at the end of the route, not along the way) express enthusiasm for proposal.

http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2013/sep/11/hs2-rail-project-economic-boost

However, we would note that the Channel Tunnel was supposed to provide cheap and efficient connection to Paris and the Continent. Now with the ferries, shuttle flights and train service alternatives severely curtailed the operators of the Eurostar are charging phenomenal prices for an essentially captive audience at "peak times", which seem to be anything except 2 am on Christmas morning. 

Will it be the case that the HS2 will end up being too expensive for the intended audience and thus undershoot on its effect and economic benefits? Train fares are too high as it is, how can they be pushed ever higher to justify this boondoggle (£185mn on consultants already). 

In another place, we have participated in a debate on the merits of rebuilding the old Great Central Main Line as a high speed (with few stations) route to the Midlands:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Central_Main_Line

Naysayers claim some of the trackbed is built over with housing and roads which is a rather a feeble argument when comparing to the potential environmental disaster and disruption of HS2. The cost of removing these excrescences would be a mere fraction of the cost of HS2. Here is the old route map of the railway.


The GCML is the best HS2 and would cost a fraction of the current plan and look (!) even runs through Sheffield. Maybe Nick should brush off his history books and stop swooning to the siren song of consultants. Time to ditch HS2 and embrace the GCML, let the Tories take the blame all through the Cotswolds for HS2's environmental cost. Meanwhile we take the fiscal high ground by rejecting what is clearly a financial black hole in the making.   

1 comment:

  1. http://yougov.co.uk/news/2013/07/05/hs2-public-support-falls/

    An embarrassing poll showing support for HS2 growing amongst LibDems... do they not know what other infrastructure with much wider impact would need to be forsaken for this quixotic vision?

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