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The scale of the distortion

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Figure 3 from the government’s October 2013 HS2 Strategic Case shows the scale of the resource misallocation arising from investing in the project.

HS2 strategic case Oct 2013, Figure 3

In the period 2015 – 2016 through 2020 – 2021, expenditure on two hundred-odd kilometres of high speed rail would

  • exceed the money allocated to the 6,900 kilometres of Highways Agency motorways and roads (which account for a third of all traf­fic by mileage and two thirds of all heavy goods vehi­cle mileage in Eng­land)
  • equate to more than 70% of the expenditure on the 15,000 km of legacy rail track run by Network Rail
  • represent more than twice the planned spend on public transport in the whole of London.

From 2026, HS2 stage one would account for fewer than 100 million journeys in a year, most of which would be transfers from lower-carbon classic rail. London’s buses and railways currently account for around 4,000 million journeys.

Reallocating part of the HS2 budget to the road and classic rail networks would have important productivity and connectivity benefits. Fixing potholes, bad road signage, bottlenecks, and dangerous alignments and junctions, would produce much greater aggregate time savings, accident reduction, and carbon diminution.

An investment programme such as Rail Package 6 would provide greater North to South rail capacity than HS2, at much lower cost. Part of the savings could be allocated to improve the railway’s East to West connectivity, which is currently poor.

On the evidence available, HS2’s effect on North – South railfreight capacity would be minimal. If its rail transport target is met, the new London Gateway port at Shellhaven would use up all the WCML goods paths ‘freed up’ by HS2.

Alternative investments, including re-establishment of tracks such as Bedford to Cambridge, and March to Spalding, would allow for a much larger tonnage of goods to be carried by rail.

Written by beleben

November 19, 2013 at 10:46 am

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

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