Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Vince Cable: Case For HS2 Still To Be Made

The case for the High Speed Rail train link between London, Birmingham and the north of England has yet to be made, according to Vince Cable.

And senior Tory Archie Norman expresses his "astonishment" about the Government’s cost-benefit analysis and concludes that "HS2 is not just a bad piece of accounting. It is a failure of imagination: surely we can think of something better to do with £50bn?"

Boris Johnson has weighed in to the debate with his view that “This thing isn’t going to cost £42 billion, my friends. The real cost is going to be way north of that (keep going till you reach £70 billion, and then keep going).”

So whether the final cost is estimated to be £42billion, £50billion or more than £70billion, this farce must be stopped now. If the project is to increase capacity, then bring in double-deck carriages; if it is meant about saving time, spending billions to save minutes doesn't add up as a good use of public money - and with ever increasing sophistication (and falling costs) of portable personal communications - we should cut our losses and spend the money on the most "shovel ready" projects available: increasing affordable housing.

Friday, 5 July 2013

Financial Times: Case For HS2 "Unconvincing"

As the latest estimated cost of the proposed High Speed Rail (HS2) jumps from £33billion to over £42billion, the case for the project according to the Financial Times is "unconvincing".

Now the Guardian reports that ministers have "misled the public" over the true costs and benefits of the scheme.

The puzzle about this project is why the Tories are so keen on it, since it tramples through so many Conservative constituencies (without stopping) and whose returns, even before the latest revisions, were marginal.

Since then, mobile internet and tablets have made the time fly, and even the former CEO of what is now HS1 thinks HS2 is “away with the fairies”. 

I firmly believe that HS2 will never be built.

However, it is time for the coalition government to stop this white elephant in it's tracks, cut our losses and spend money on more productive public investments, such  as a badly needed new house building programme.