Outside the marginals

a commentary on the politics that followed the UK 2010 & 2015 elections

Archive for the tag “HS2”

HS2: Labour surprise

Labour is questioning whether the HS2 rail project is “the best way to spend £50bn for the future of our country”.

Shadow chancellor Ed Balls told the party conference they still backed the idea of a new north-south rail link, but there could be no blank cheque.
BBC News website 23 September 2013 Labour ready to cancel HS2 ‘if costs rise’

Well, there’s a surprise! Read more…

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HS2: Fiscal Irresponsibility? Political Avoidance

Questions tonight (23 August 2013) from Cathy Newman of Channel 4 News to the Secretary of State for Transport, Patrick McLoughlin: If the cost [of HS2] continues to go up, do you pull the plug? (I think she asks 4 times.)

Now this is a Conservative Minister, from a party that believes in “living within your means” and sound money, so the answer has to be obvious: Read more…

HS2: This service is running late or cancelled

That well know “supporter” of public investment the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) has weighed in against HS2 (The High Speed Rail proposal to drag Birmingham kicking and screaming into the South East) arguing that it is going to cost far too much.

“The evidence is now overwhelming that this will be unbelievably costly to the taxpayer while delivering incredibly poor value for money,” he said.

“It’s shameful that at a time of such financial difficulty for many families, the government is caving in to lobbying from businesses, local councils and self-interested politicians more concerned with winning votes than governing in the national interest.”

The institute said the policy may have been partly followed to win votes in “response to poor electoral performance in the north of England in recent elections”.

And it said money would be better spent on more “commercially viable” road, rail and transport projects “not requiring support from the taxpayer”
BBC Website 18 August 2013: HS2 ‘could cost taxpayer £80bn’

I also think it will be costly (very) but there are more important reasons for not proceeding with the current proposals. Read more…

What to do about London?

London seems to be growing almost exponentially and policy seems to be ever more London centric. Outside the “Home Counties” the rest of the country seems to be being left behind – much to the resentment of the rich South East.

And yet we read of problems in London.  Congestion, Airport under-capacity, Spiralling House prices (OK if you have one) and key workers unable to afford to live in London but unable to afford to travel into London.

Surely continuing like this is madness? Read more…

HS2: throwing away the benefits?

From Updated Economic Case for HS2 (published on http://www.hs2.org.uk)

Table 1 – HS2 Y Network quantified costs and benefits
(£ billions) of HS2 (2011 present value prices) and 
resulting BCR 
1  Transport User Benefits Business              £34.3bn
   Transport User Benefits Other                 £16.7bn
   Transport User Benefits Total                 £51.0bn 
2  Other Quantifiable Benefits                    £1.0bn 
3  Loss to Government of Indirect Taxes          ‐£3.8bn 
4  Net Transport Benefits (PVB)                  £48.2bn 
5  Wider Economic Impacts (WEIs)                 £15.4bn 
6  Net Benefits including WEIs                   £63.6bn 
7  Capital Costs                                 £36.4bn 
8  Operating Costs                               £22.3bn 
9  Total Costs (7+8)                             £58.7bn 
10  Revenues                                     £32.9bn 
11  Net Costs to Government  (PVC) = (9) – (10)  £25.7bn 
12  BCR without WEIs (ratio) = (4)/(11)            1.9 
13  BCR with WEIs (ratio) = (6)/(11)               2.5 
Please note – table totals may not be an exact sum of 
components due to rounding

These figures are all a bit opaque (what is the Internal Rate of Return or what are the annual benefits?), but seem to say that conservatively you can expect to get back £1.90 for every £1.00 spent on the extension of HS2 from Birmingham to Manchester and Leeds (the Y Network).  If genuine, why the delay in not starting this project until HS2 London to Birmingham is finished?  Read more…

HS2: Northern Section – TBA

Today’s announcement (gov.uk 29 January 2013) is being promoted as “joining the north”, “solving the North-South Divide”.

I suppose it is to be welcomed (even if it will not open until 2032-33 – twenty years time!) but it does expose a rather London-centric view of the country. The Geography is dodgy and the topography of the line is also a give-away. Read more…

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