Monday, September 19, 2011

Our British Cousins and their High-Speed Train, the "HS2"

Every so often, we take a look at what's happening in the UK. They also are getting a high-speed train shoved down their collective throat.

There isn't a single word in this brief article that you don't recognize as appropriate to our own situation here in California with our own HSR grief.  Their cost numbers are far more modest than ours.  Also, you need to remember that the UK is based to a significant degree on a railroad economy; they invented this transportation mode.  It was one cornerstone of their Industrial Revolution.

Nonetheless, they too have evolved with other modalities such as auto travel and flying.  They have more choices.  And just maybe high-speed rail is an excessive extension of what can be adequately upgraded without such sexy glamour as over 200 mph trains.

Since the Brits. are quarreling over their high-speed rail project, we certainly ought to be re-examining ours and consider that maybe it's not such a hot idea after all.

High Speed Rail hidden costs of £28bn
16 September 2011

The hidden costs of High Speed Rail (HS2) have today been revealed as £28 billion.

The TaxPayers’ Alliance have revealed a report that shows how Ministers at the Department for Transport have made a series of pledges for HS2 to try and win public support, but are promising things that aren’t in their current plans and which would cost further billions to achieve. The report shows that the cost to taxpayers could rise from £17.1 billion to £45.5 billion.

Reasons that costs could rise:

•Increasing congestion on the London Underground lines from Euston will make Cross Rail 2 essential, costing at least £10 billion.

•The business case will mean many towns (Coventry and Stoke-on-Trent ) get a worse service. If the Government want to avoid this, as Theresa Villiers has pledged, they will have to spend an extra £5.4 billion.

•Solving the environmental effects of the line, for example by running portions of it underground, is likely to add at least £3 billion to the cost.

Revenues may be lower than expected:

•Demand is unlikely to match the Government’s expectations.

•The plan relies on a 27% over inflation rise in fares. If that does not happen – and Philip Hammond has argued that competition will lead to reduced fares – revenue is likely to be at least £10 billion lower.

Matthew Sinclair, Director of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said:

“Ministers don’t want to admit that the white elephant they’re trying to sell to the British public will mean a worse service for many passengers and relies on substantial increases in fares. 
They’ve been promising the world but meeting their pledges would add billions to the already frightening price tag attached to the current plans. 
There is no way taxpayers can afford the hidden costs of high speed rail. 
It would be completely unfair to heap this further burden on them at a time when taxes are rising and other areas of spending are being cut. 
Politicians need to be honest about the people who will lose out if high speed rail goes ahead, and the real bill taxpayers will have to pay.”

No comments: