die belebende Bedenkung

Making HS2 too expensive to cancel

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S2 chairman David Higgins made the claim that HS2 may ease housing pressure in London

HS2 chairman David Higgins made the ridiculous claim that HS2 may ease housing pressure in London (The Guardian, 14 Jan 2014)

HS2 Ltd’s new chairman, the £950-a-day Australian David Higgins, has told the Financial Times (14 Jan 2014, paywall) he planned to publish an initial report in March outlining possible cost savings.

[‘Sir David Higgins dashes hopes of big HS2 savings’, Mark Odell, Transport Correspondent, 14 Jan 2014]

But he cautioned against expectations of a large reduction in the headline price.

[…] “The thing I want to focus on is how can we deliver it sooner and get the benefits earlier,” he said.

With public opinion moving against HS2, upping the sunk-costs ante by making the project too expensive to cancel is an attractive course of action. Like every other aspect of the scheme, HS2’s construction timetable is intensely political.

The current 2026 timetable for phase one already looks unrealistic, so what effects ‘earlier delivery’ would have on improvements to the legacy network (e.g. Midland Main Line Electrification) can only be guessed at. It seems likely that the need for workers from overseas would be exacerbated, and spending £20 million on a HS2 college of further education is unlikely to make much difference. It amounts to half the sum wasted in the 2012 West Coast refranchising debacle.

Creating project-specific institutions, like ‘HS2 College’, or ‘Crossrail Tunnelling Academy’, is a political gimmick with minimal potential for raising competence in engineering and design at the national level.

ITV report 'HS2 to ease housing crisis'


Written by beleben

January 14, 2014 at 11:29 am

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

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2 Responses

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  1. Cost savings – Simples – re-use the GC/GW route, noting that that leap in passenger numbers, when the WCML was electrified, was artificially enhanced by the closure of all main services from London to Birmingham, including the premier Blue Pullmans. This is very likely the cause of the surge in the figures I believe you used in a recent post, with a high probability that it was promoted by BR managers to show impresive returens on the money spent on the WCML electrification.

    Someone needs to get to David Higgins and whisper that with a version of 51m he gets the journey time reductions for a fraction of the cost. A lot of that cost reduction will be in no longer having to pay out land & other compensation and the substantial legal costs for building a completely new railway but of course that rather takes a lot of ‘servicing’ (ie churning without earning) business out of the equation.

    Dave Holladay

    January 14, 2014 at 7:34 pm

  2. You advised us: HS2 chairman David Higgins made the ridiculous claim that HS2 may ease housing pressure in London (The Guardian, 14 Jan 2014).
    Of course he said ‘may’ though, grammatically, he meant ‘might’ but he could equally have said ‘pigs may fly’ or is it ‘might’?
    HS2 is already well on the way to saving on the budget. It does not plan to have any outlay on the Manchester Airport HS station (not included in budget) because it knows the airport will pay in order to keep its new Airport City connected even if it takes business away from the airport – although the transport hub in the centre of Airport City will be a mile away from HS station.
    HS2 already plans to make a massive saving in going from its original plan:
    Thus, the later plan has less detail than the former and bridges / road links are now ‘up in the air’ with access road and 4-track line squeezed in to a 100m wide strip next to M56 between J6 and J5. But they can still produce a clinical representation in:


    January 14, 2014 at 9:30 pm

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