Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The article below from the 'Telegraph' was referred to me by someone in the UK. We are discovering that, despite our Europe (and Asia) envy over their high-speed trains, they are waking up to the harsh realities of the consequences of HSR development.

What is intriguing about this article is that railroads were 'invented' in the UK and rail has always been a major mode of transit in Great Britain. But, the Brits are now saying, enough is enough. Just because a lot is good does not mean that more is better.

They are saying that it costs too much and harms too much. That's full-cost accounting within the cost/effectiveness equation. As we keep arguing, there are untold impact costs of the construction and on the environment. Those costs don't appear in the CHSRA book-keeping.

Attention California: High-Speed Rail is subject to the laws of cost/effectiveness, like everything else.

We already know the numbers. Too few riders, too great a cost for development, too expensive to operate, too harmful on the environment, especially the urban one.

As someone very smart said: "Just because it is technically possible doesn't make it necessary or even desirable."



Is this another high-speed train crash?

The London-Birmingham supertrain will be costly, damaging – and make your journey slower, not faster, argues Andrew Gilligan.

By Andrew Gilligan 10:36PM GMT 19 Dec 2010

As the Transport Secretary, Philip Hammond, confirms the Government's high-speed rail project today, let us ignore, for the moment, the squeals of the Shires, set aside the protests of Primrose Hill, put out of our minds the nightmare vision of Chilterns beechwoods shredded by concrete. There is an even better case against it than that.

Until now, High Speed Two, Mr Hammond's sexy new supertrain from Euston to Birmingham, has been seen principally as a problem for those whose houses, gardens and countryside will be buried beneath it. It is, in fact, a £17 billion mistake, on a grand scale, for the whole nation. The clearest demonstration of this is to be found in the proposal documents published by HS2, the line's promoters, themselves.

The Daily Telegraph has carefully scrutinised the small print of the HS2 prospectus. For a Government report, it is actually rather informative, even candid. And it makes clear that virtually every argument you will hear for high-speed rail, today and in the months of argument to come, is either based on deeply shaky assumptions, or is just plain wrong.

This line will not be green. It will not greatly benefit the economy. And, most remarkably of all, it will probably make your journey slower, not faster.

Underlying most people's vague support for high-speed rail is the belief that it is somehow environmentally friendly. But even without the impact on the countryside, you only have to reach page 7 of the prospectus before finding the statement that High Speed Two could actually increase Britain's greenhouse gas emissions. Over the next 60 years, UK rail transport as a whole is predicted to have a stable or reducing carbon footprint. But for HS2 over the same period, the carbon impact will be somewhere between "a reduction in emissions of 25 million tonnes of CO2 and an increase of 26.6 million tonnes of CO2."

Even if it is at the lowest possible end of that scale, the prospectus concedes, a cut of 25 million tonnes over six decades is "small when set in the context of overall transport emissions... HS2 would not be a major factor in managing carbon in the transport sector."