Monday, 11 February 2019

HS2: The Great Train Robbery @ Channel 4's Dispatches

Back in 2013, it was £33bn:
Futures Forum: HS2 and the South-West

As the price tag continued to go up, by 2017 the former Chancellor was calling for it to be cancelled:
Futures Forum: The HS2 rail project should be scrapped as it is a 'waste of money'

It's now getting very mixed up with the costs around Brexit:
Futures Forum: Brexit: and scrapping HS2

The biggest question, though, is whether it's money which could be better spent elsewhere:
Futures Forum: HS2 and the South-West: post-Dawlish ..... "Building a few kilometres of new track to secure access to the South West has a far better case than building hundreds of kilometres of vanity trackage to serve places which are already linked by multiple rail and motorway systems."

And whether other regions will lose out: 

How will HS2 be good for the South West?

26 August 2017

It’s a good question and Jim Steer, founder of Greengauge 21, which supports HS2, will be putting forward the case for the project in a lecture at Plymouth University in October.

Jim, it is reported, will specifically refer to the position of South West England, explaining how HS2 will be beneficial, despite the region being some distance from the new route, with its existing transport links suffering from slow speeds and lack of resilience.

The lecture will, no doubt, also note that the contribution from taxpayers across the region’s 22 parliamentary constituencies will be £1.4bn, at 2011 prices. Even the most fervent supporters will be hard pressed to say what the taxpayers of Cornwall, Devon and Somerset will get for their money.

Indeed, it is not just a case of missing out on the benefits of HS2, a government-funded report produced by consultants KPMG, published in September, 2013 forecast that some local economies would actually be worse off. The Cornish economy would decline by £19.5m; Plymouth and Exeter by £21.5m; and the rest of Devon by £52.0m.

How will HS2 be good for the South West? | 51m

It might be about to be scrapped anyway: 

Is the financial logic behind HS2 collapsing?

There are growing signs this inter-city vanity project could be scrapped

Illustration by Morten Morland

Liam Halligan
9 February 2019

No one is in any doubt about the problem facing Britain’s railways. Over the past decade, rail fares have risen twice as fast as salaries. Yet across the national network, overcrowding is at record levels, cancellations are spiralling and passenger dissatisfaction is at a ten-year high. Yet ministers are about to start pouring £4.5 billion a year, every year for a decade, into building a single new railway route: HS2. To put this into perspective, the amount annually maintaining and upgrading the rest of the rail network is £6 billion. It’s a trap that we can, even now, avoid.

Much has changed since the scheme was launched in 2010. Official cost estimates have almost doubled — from £33 billion to £56 billion. And even this might be modest: independent industry experts put the eventual bill above £100 billion. If true, then Britain will have achieved a world record — the most expensive railway ever built.

Is the financial logic behind HS2 collapsing? | The Spectator

Tonight's Dispatches from Channel Four delves deeper into the fiasco:
HS2: The Great Train Robbery: Channel 4 Dispatches | Channel 4 

HS2: The Great Train Robbery

From April, the government will start spending over £4 billion a year on the HS2 high-speed train line, for ten years. Is this the right part of the rail network to receive so much investment?

Dispatches - All 4
Channel 4 News - Dispatches HS2: The Great Train Robbery | Facebook

The press have chimed in heartily:
Furious Channel 4 Dispatches viewers demand 'joke' HS2 project scrapped after controversial documentary - Birmingham Live 

This is from the Mail:

Ministers are 'keen to kill off' HS2 amid growing concern the rail project's annual costs could rise by 40 per cent to £6billion a year

Government sources claim could be scrapped to use money on existing routes
Claims made on C4 documentary HS2: The Great Train Robbery airing tomorrow
Theresa May and Chris Grayling's have insisted that the project will go ahead


10 February 2019

Government ministers are 'keen to kill off' HS2 as costs threaten to spiral out of control, it was claimed today.

More than £4.1billion has been spent on the high-speed rail project since its conception a decade ago. But senior government sources have now said they are 'actively considering' scrapping the scheme amid fears the bill could hit £6billion a year - roughly equivalent to the total for the rest of the rail network put together.

The behind-the-scene manoeuvring comes after years of battle over whether to push ahead with the project. Theresa May and Transport Secretary Chris Grayling have publicly stressed their commitment to the ambitious £56billion plans, which would directly connect London, Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester.

However, last month Treasury minister Liz Truss raised eyebrows when she said the government must be prepared to 'junk white elephant' projects rather than allowing 'mission creep'. 

Under the current plans, phase one of the high-speed rail link will open between London and Birmingham in December 2026 before the railway is extended to Crewe, Manchester and Leeds by 2033

The latest signs of a rethink came in a Dispatches investigation called HS2: The Great Train Robbery, which is due to air tomorrow night on Channel 4 at 8pm.

A senior Government source told the programme: 'The costs are spiralling so much we've been actively considering other scenarios, including scrapping the entire project.'

Ministers reportedly believe the annual costs, previously estimated at £4.2billion a year over the next decade, could end up being £6billion.

A Department for Transport spokesman said: 'HS2 is underway with 7,000 people and 2,000 businesses working on building what will become the backbone of Britain's rail network.'

Under the current plans, phase one of the high-speed rail link will open between London and Birmingham in December 2026 before the railway is extended to Crewe, Manchester and Leeds by 2033. HS2 trains are designed to operate at up to 225mph and also serve locations on the existing mainline network, such as Liverpool, Newcastle, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

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