die belebende Bedenkung

HS2 versus flood alleviation

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Environment Agency chairman Lord Smith stated that any flood alleviation project must save £8 for every £1 it costs, noted Karl Mathiesen.

[“How Cameron’s flood spending pledge could swamp Treasury’s targets”, Karl Mathiesen,, 13 Feb 2014]

[…] The bar is high compared with other large capital projects in the UK. HS2, the high speed railway that has trilateral support across government and opposition, has been estimated to have a cost-benefit ratio of between 1.5 and 2.5 for example.

[…] According to EA data, there are 477 projects, worth £2.2bn, that will not go ahead before 2019-20. These would offer increased protection for 97,000 homes.

An EA spokesperson said it was normal to have a backlog to some degree. But Colin Green from the Flood Hazard Research Centre said the backlog and the requirements for efficiency had been increasing with development.

“It used to be that a scheme would be undertaken if the ratio was six to one, with increasing pressure, particularly in terms of areas at risk of flooding, it’s gone up to eight to one before it will get funded,” he said.

Written by beleben

February 14, 2014 at 11:04 am

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

One Response

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  1. The £2.2bn for floods, cited above, pales into insignificance compared with the £50 bn HS2; and which will make a financial loss in the tens of billions of pounds – over £2,000 for every household in the land.

    This scheme can in no way be transformational. It is said to generates some 76,000 passengers per day, (FoI request), corresponding to roughly 22.8 million per year. It is only those which can be “transformational”; (all the rest (obviously) pre-exist). In contrast there are currently 1.5 billion passenger journeys per year by surface rail, and 43.5bn passenger journeys by all modes. Hence, HS2’s supposed generated traffic amounts to 1.5% of all surface rail journeys and to 0.05%, or one in 2,000, of all passenger journeys. Transformational? Ha, Ha.

    The supposed Benefits to cost ratio of 1.5 to 2.5 depends on the absurd idea that fares should be subtracted from costs, leaving net cost to Government to be compared with social benefits. The absurdity is apparent upon realising that, if the theory is correct, then projects in the private sector have an infinite rate of return. (They cost the Government nothing. Dividing benefits by zero costs gives at infinite BCR). Ho, Ho.

    Alternatively note that be changing the economic boundary at the stroke of a pen changes the net scheme costs, and hence the BCR, can be changed, see the burger bar analogy here and items 6, 7 and 8 here

    I comment: We do not have corruption by way of brown envelopes but, in the words of Stewart Joy, Chief Economist to British Railways in the late 1960’s, in his book “The Train that Ran Away”, “there are those who are cynically prepared to accept the rewards of high office in return for the unpalatable task of tricking the Government on a mammoth scale. Those men”, Joy wrote, “were either fools of knaves”.

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