Choo Choo Ego

Before we get to the article ‘Can the cost of HS2 be justified?‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2020/feb/03/at-307m-per-mile-of-track-can-the-cost-of-hs2-be-justified), I need to take a step back, you see when I was young, stupid, eager and sceptic 6 years ago (I am still all that except young), I wrote on August 16th 2013 ‘Political ego and their costs‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2013/08/16/political-ego-and-their-costs/), there I wrote “As reported by the Guardian in July, there have been voices that the high speed North-South line, which will cost to the scope of 40 billion Euro is going in a not dissimilar direction. Even though the UK government is claiming a 20% nett return, the additional factors might have not been weighted enough. Consider that the current issues involving price hikes for train rides are growing between 4% and 9%, the group that can no longer afford these kinds of prices is growing fast. More important, these price hikes are now pushing people away from rail and towards buses for the sheer cost of it. This is an entirely opposing reaction to what the UK government needs it to be.

Those in favour of HS2 claim in the quote “This is a massively misleading oversimplification because it doesn’t take into account the significant financial returns that will be generated from an investment in high-speed rail.”

There was already a clear path of non-affordability and I am happy that people almost 7 years later give us ‘At £307m per mile of track, can the cost of HS2 be justified?‘, there is hardly an economy, there are spending sprees all over the place and the infrastructure needs serious fixing, yet some MP’s thought it was a good feeling (their ego) to give out 40 billion on a train ride that has more problems than fixes. 

The idea that the required budget has more than doubled requires a few more investigations of those trying to push this project. So even as we go with “Allan Cook ordered a “chairman’s stocktake” when he arrived at HS2 in December 2018 and last September came up with £72bn-£78bn in 2015 prices, or £81bn-£88bn in 2019 prices.

Nils Pratley informs us on the The official Oakervee report, which concludes that if problems are not fixed, the outstanding bill will increase with an additional £20,000,000,000. So there is that to look forward to. As such as we consider “Every escalation in costs has dented the economic case for HS2 – £106bn equates to an astonishing £307m per mile to build 345 miles of high-speed track.” I was of the mind that a clear case could not be made when it was still a mere £40 billion. Even as we are given “Government studies used to say the full Y-shaped line would generate benefits of £2.30-£2.50 for every pound spent.” It is not merely disputed, I wonder where the actual data on that model is. You see, if we take time into consideration between Leeds to Birmingham, how much time gain will the traveller see if we compare normal train versus high speed train and is that person willing to pay for that difference. In light of the Oakervee report where they give us “put the benefits at only £1.50 for every £1 spent. Lord Berkeley, the dissenting member of the Oakervee panel, reckons 60p is more like it“. The argument from Lord Berkeley is important. He gives us “running 18 trains per hour, as assumed in original projections of HS2’s revenues, is impossible. No other high-speed network in the world achieves that“, which amounts to one train every 3.5 minutes. In what reality do we have that many people travelling from one end to the other? Even when we accept that 14 trains is possible, the entire matter is set on trains that will never reach 50% filling (personal view). In all this we still need to consider that this is a train that merely stops at large cities, in all this I have some serious questions on the entire project and the stage of how many tickets will be sold, for as I see it at present, we are sold a bag of goods (optionally containing one High Speed Train) with a lot of problems that could have been seen in 2013, all this to feed the ego of politicians?

 

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