Wednesday, 20 July 2011

“At £1,000 per taxpayer, most of whom will see no benefit, HS2 is a massive redistribution of wealth to the rich people who will travel by the train” (The Times)

Amidst all of the excitement stemming from 'hacking,' the Murdochs and Mr Cameron's increasing discomfiture, people are missing other arguably more important matters.

Today's Times (a Murdoch-owned newspaper) publishes a piece on the so-called HS2 and, as The Times is a subscription newspaper not available to all, I have copied part of the piece which vindicates every word which I have said on the subject of HS2 before the 2010 election, during the 2010 election, and after the 2010 election.

Here we go:

"High-speed rail line ‘is next Millennium Dome’

Robert Lea Industrial Editor

A 225mph rail line from London to Birmingham and the North will be a £34 billion waste of money and the proposals are based on an “economic fairy story”, the Institute of Economic Affairs has concluded.

The free market think-tank’s report attacks the economic arguments of the proposed line, known as High Speed 2 or HS2, promoted by Philip Hammond, the Transport Secretary.

The report, which has the backing of Conservative backbench MPs, describes HS2 as a white elephant in the making based on “weird” travel assumptions and with a cavalier approach to costings.

It is proposed that the line, due to be running by 2025, will cut through unspoilt parts of Warwickshire, Northamptonshire and the Chilterns and terminate on newly built tracks at London Euston. The debate has hitherto been marked by accusations of Nimbyism against vociferous local opposition. However, in its report High Speed 2: the next government project disaster? the institute argues that it is a vanity project, on a par with the Millennium Dome, whose economic case is flawed.

Richard Wellings, co-author of the report, said that HS2 will cost £34 billion, not taking into account extra billions needed at Euston to cope with the dispersal of thousands of additional passengers. “At £1,000 per taxpayer, most of whom will see no benefit, HS2 is a massive redistribution of wealth to the rich people who will travel by the train,” Dr Wellings said.

“The cavalier approach to costings has not taken into account the cost implications of running into Euston, which would need the construction of a new Tube line or diverting Crossrail [the new east-west London train line under construction] to cope.”

Dr Wellings said that the Department for Transport was guilty of “weird assumptions” about the economic benefits of HS2 that exaggerated the benefits in time savings of a high-speed line. He said that the line would need to be vastly subsidised to charge fares that would attract enough passengers. “If this were a commercial project it would be hugely loss-making,” he said."

Pretty damning, isn't it? 

Write to your MP about it if you feel as I do.

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