Sunday Times - The New Rail Line Is A Guargantuan Folly
An editorial in the Sunday Times (8 January) has commented on the decision on HS2 by Transport Secretary, Justine Greening, which is expected to be announced this week.
The editorial comments - "The government is about to embark on a gargantuan new folly: HS2, the £32 billion high-speed rail link between London and Birmingham and places further north."
The editorial quotes the recent report of the Institute of Economic Affairs, "There is a significant risk HS2 will become the latest in a long series of government big-project disasters with higher-than-forecast costs and lower-than-forecast benefits. HS2 is not commercially viable and will require substantial and increasing levels of subsidy."
"Even if it comes in on budget, which only a Pollyanna would expect, the business case is not proven. Much of it rests on the notion that business cannot be conducted on a train, thus wasting time and damaging our productivity. This does not stand up to scrutiny. The first thing most business men and women do when they get on a train is to open their briefcase and their laptop. Many say train journeys are their most productive time.
A spokesperson for 51m added, "In her summing up of the Parliamentary debate on HS2 in October last year, Theresa Villiers justified continuing to put a monetary value on journey time saving by saying HS2 will reduce over-crowding, enabling more people to work on trains. As 51m has frequently pointed out, over-crowding can be reduced by measures such as putting more carriages on trains and changing the mix of first and standard class seats without spending £32 billion. Moreover, the high- speed rail project's solution to over-crowding would not be delivered until 2026 at the earliest. "
Before this, a folly will become a catastrophy.