HS2 & ‘The Case’
This Week on Facebook: In last week’s post I included a comment by John Redwood with the title, Would you invest your money in HS2 that was (in general terms) opposed to its development. This week I am including some alternative responses to the HS2. Although in general terms the cost of HS2 generates more article against the scheme than for it. The article associated with the image below gives the impression that the responses of the disgruntled, are not just those of the nimby. The case for or against HS2, is given in the included articles below and the references¹⋅²⋅³.
ICT solutions such as video and teleconferencing solutions have become an integral way to conduct business, but as we can see from the increasing demand for passenger journey, travel is still very important. Developing efficient transport links is important for economic growth, but of course HS2 is not the only solution to support this. (3)
1. HS2 — 12 arguments for and against: The first phase between London and Birmingham will open in 2026. A V-shaped second section will be added in 2033, going to Manchester and Leeds. The government says it expects 70% of jobs created to be outside London. A government-commissioned report by accountants KPMG suggests that the Midlands and north will benefit more than the capital.
2. HS2 to boost UK economy ‘by £15bn a year’ says report: The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) criticised the scheme, saying: “So far, the Department [of Transport] has made decisions based on fragile numbers, out-of-date data and assumptions which do not reflect real life.” The committee also said there was no evidence the line would help the growth of regional cities and would instead draw even more business to London. KPMG’s report to the department was commissioned by HS2 Ltd, which is a non-departmental public body wholly owned by the Department for Transport.
3. HS2 — can the technology meet expectations? The UK’s railway system is the oldest in the world and was established about 180 years ago. It is a mixed usage system, which means the track needs to serve three major purposes; long haul intercity journeys, short haul commuting journeys and freight. Intercity connections are very important, which is one reason the government chose to prioritise the service, but that squeezed the capacity around larger cities like London and Manchester.
4. Transport experts call for independent review of HS2 options: Alternatives to HS2 should be reconsidered, a group of travel experts have warned in a report saying the high-speed rail line could be five times as expensive as an equivalent railway in France.
5. Unlocking the benefits of HS2: Government policy is to build HS2, both phases one and two, and to improve regional rail connectivity through schemes like Northern Powerhouse Rail and Midlands Connect. To do one without the other is a foolhardy choice and does a great disservice to the country. Nowhere would feel the full benefits of HS2 if we see it as a binary choice between HS2 and other programmes to better connect our regions. The great towns and cities across the North and Midlands, from Bradford to Birmingham, need both.
Referenced Articles Books & Definitions:
- A bold text subscript above and preceding a title below (¹·²·³), refers to a book, pdf, podcast, video, slide show and a download url that is usually free.
- Brackets containing a number e.g. (1) reference a particular included article (1-5).
- A link (url), which usually includes the title, are to an included source.
- The intended context of words, idioms, phrases, have their links in italics.
- A long read url* (when used below) is followed by a superscript asterisk.
- Occasionally Open University (OU) free courses are cited.
- JSTOR lets you set up a free account allowing you to have 6 (interchangeable) books stored that you can read online.
¹HS2 Phase Two—Economic case advice for the Department for Transport (pdf): Risk analysis shows that the case for the Phase 2a increment is robust to a variety of potential changes to both scheme and cost assumptions. The majority of the sensitivities tested — including variations in construction costs, fares and GDP — provide over a two-thirds chance of the scheme providing medium, or higher, value for money.
²The Economics of High Speed 2 (pdf): Before spending more taxpayers’ money on this project, we believe that Government should answer the questions raised in this report. It needs to demonstrate that HS2 is the most effective way of achieving the declared objectives of the project and, if it is not, then the plan needs to change. The lengthy passage of the enabling legislation for the first phase of the construction provides an opportunity to examine the case for HS2. There should be no embarrassment in being prepared to revise the project: the objectives and cost are too important.
³Economic evaluation of the High Speed Rail (pdf): All over the world, governments of different political orientation are investing in high speed rail (HSR) infrastructure. In some countries the enthusiasm is more intense than in others. There is no a single pattern. UK and the US are now closer to building HSR infrastructure but until now they have been reluctant to give the definitive approval, and the money allocated to HSR has not gone beyond financing the cost of the evaluation of its economic and financial viability. Other countries, like France and Spain, have been keener on HSR than other European countries like Norway or Sweden, for example, whose governments are still studying whether this type of investment is socially worthy. Spain is a unique case because with much less traffic density than other countries (and much less congestion) in the conventional rail network, it is going to very soon be one of the first countries in the world measured in HSR kilometers.
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