Thursday 23 April 2015

More on the case against HS2

In a post last June I made a ten point summary of Christian Wolmar's arguments against  HS2, the proposed High Speed Rail Link between London and the North.  Interestingly this is the third most looked at post on Keynesian Liberal, after "Scottish Independence Referendum " (I suspect the astonishing number of "hits" was a  freak) and "An Airy Fairy Measure" (I suspect the title is misunderstood: it's actually about David Cameron's inadequate proposals for assessing our level of happiness)

Last month the House of Lords issued a report which was also highly critical of the HS2 proposal.  You can see the full details at

The Committee's main criticisms rest rest on two grounds:
  1. HS2 is not the best, and  certainly not the cheapest, way of increasing the capacity of the present national network: 
  2. Rather than helping to rebalance the economy the project is more likely to drain energy and resources from the North to London, not than vice versa.
I note with some alarm that, whereas according to Wolmar, the project was estimated in 2011 to cost £17bn.,their Lordships, writing a mere four years later, estimate £50bn.  Maybe they're measuring different things, but to me it sounds a bit like the London Olympics which, I seem to remember, were originally estimated to cost less than £3bn and eventually came in at over £10bn, (with very few of the proclaimed likely "knock on" effects actually realised.)

So far I haven't noticed much debate about HS2 in the election campaign.  Whether the true cost is £17bn or £50bn, it seems absurd not to mention it when we are talking about a further £8bn needed for the NHS and there are proposals to slash social security expenditure, already pared to the bone, by a further £12bn.

If you are fortunate enough to be actually canvassed in the campaign, rather than simply inundated with leaflets, please press your candidates for their views on what looks like little more than a vanity project.

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