die belebende Bedenkung

Toys ave us

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On 28 April 2014 the British government’s bill paving the way for the £50 billion HS2 railway easily cleared its second reading in parliament by 451 votes to 50 owing to Labour support, the Guardian reported.

However, there were about 26 Tories who voted against the legislation, plus more abstentions, with many backbenchers objecting to HS2 carving a path through their constituencies. Several ministers also missed the vote – in effect, abstaining.

In the debate that preceded the vote, pro-HS2 MP Graham Stringer said, “We should look at the experience of countries that have high-speed lines, such as France, Spain and Germany”. That would seem to be a good idea.

Germany’s high speed network was largely created by upgrading existing lines, but in Spain that approach was not taken. Instead, plans were formulated to build an extensive new-build network linking all provincial capitals to Madrid.

Now, Spain’s AVE is the largest high speed rail network in Europe, but “a total mess in terms of using public resources,” said Xavier Fageda, a professor of economic policy at the University of Barcelona.

[‘In Spain, government-backed trains overtake planes’,
CNN, April 30, 2014]

[…] Fageda estimates that the high-speed network cost 40 billion euros to build and receives 300 to 400 million euros in annual subsidies.

“It’s extremely expensive infrastructure with high maintenance costs that at the end has achieved its success at a high cost, because the demand in no way justified an investment that large,” he says.

Critics argue that the money could have helped more riders if it had been devoted to the country’s dilapidated regional and urban rail systems, which people use to get to work, or into achieving a more humble 200 kilometer per hour (about 125 mph) on long-distance trains instead of the more expensive 300 kilometer per hour AVE lines it now has.

“I think it would have been cheaper if they’d been flying people around in helicopters. It’s a very expensive toy, and Spain has other priorities,” says Fede Sabrià, a professor of operations management at the IESE Business School in Barcelona. “What do we do for the people who have to take the train 30 kilometers to work every day? That’s the big problem.


Written by beleben

May 1, 2014 at 7:22 pm

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

2 Responses

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  1. I wonder why Mr.Stringer didn’t mention Switzerland. Is it because the Swiss have no plans to build any high speed lines ?


    May 1, 2014 at 8:14 pm

  2. See our open letter to Sir David Higgins, Chairman of HS2 Ltd, and our “Summary Case Against” available here

    The latter concludes with these words:

    This project is not, as claimed by Graham Nalty, in ‘Local Transport Today’ of 4th April, a great idea being led by the wrong kind of people. Instead it is an entirely stupid idea sold to the gullible by con-men – men who, in the words of Stewart Joy, Chief Economist to British Railways, in his book, The Train that Ran Away, are “prepared cynically to accept the rewards of high office in the railways in return for the unpalatable task of tricking the Government on a mammoth scale”. Such men, Joy wrote, are “either fools or knaves”.

    At what point is irrational enthusiasm mis-selling and at what point is mis-selling plainly fraud?


    May 3, 2014 at 10:48 am

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