die belebende Bedenkung

Posts Tagged ‘Patrick McLoughlin

Original incorrect data

with one comment

According to its website, the Independent Transport Commission is “wholly dependent upon financial support from donors”, and its funders include High Speed One Ltd, High Speed Two Ltd, and the Department for Transport. Which might explain transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin’s presence at the launch of the Commission’s “High heels and travelators” HS2 report in Leeds Town Hall.

In his speech to the ITC on 16 May, Mr McLoughlin said that HS2 “has always been about listening to people’s views”, and “most of the things I read are wholly inaccurate”.

Perhaps he meant to say, “most of the things I read out are wholly inaccurate”. Consider the evidence.

[Speech: High speed rail and connected cities,
From: Department for Transport and The Rt Hon Patrick McLoughlin MP
First published: 17 May 2016]

[…] I know there have been various reports in the papers, about; whether HS2 is going ahead, whether it is going to Leeds and going to Manchester?

I can tell you today that it is going to Leeds and it is going to Manchester. Because we are totally committed to the whole of the high speed network.
Indeed, the HS2 project has always been about listening to people’s views, and continually improving.
At every stage we have listened, learned, and adapted to make HS2 the very best it can be.

[…] You’ll read various things in the newspapers: some of them are accurate but some of them are completely inaccurate; most of the things I read are wholly inaccurate.

In a previous speech, delivered on 11 September 2013, Mr McLoughlin suggested that ‘HS2 could mean ‘half a million fewer lorry trips a day on our main motorways’.

Some time after the ‘half a million fewer lorry trips a day’ misinformation was exposed on the Beleben blog, the Department for Transport put a note on the record of the speech, saying it had been amended to correct “original incorrect data”.


But the Department left other bogus claims from Mr McLoughlin unaltered. At the time of writing, the record of the 11 September 2013 speech still states that ‘£9 billion was spent upgrading the West Coast Main Line north of Rugby’, and that its ‘overhead wiring is getting on for 50 years old’.

Patrick McLoughlin, 11 Sep 2013: '£9bn was spent on the WCML upgrade north of Rugby'

Mr McLoughlin was also impressed enough by David Higgins’ expectation that the final cost of HS2 construction would be “significantly less” than £42.6 billion, to mention it in his speech.

Patrick McLoughlin, 11 Sep 2013; 'the budget for HS2 is £42.6 billion, not £70 billion'

Written by beleben

May 18, 2016 at 2:07 pm

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

Tagged with

Around of a pause for Patrick

leave a comment »

BBC: 'Network Rail upgrade delayed by government'

BBC: ‘Network Rail upgrade delayed by government’

On 25 June transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin announced changes to the governance of Network Rail, and ‘pausing’ of electrification works on Transpennine North and the Midland Main Line.

[House of Commons, Thursday 25 June 2015]

[The Secretary of State for Transport (Mr Patrick McLoughlin):] With permission, Mr Speaker, I wish to make a statement about Network Rail following today’s publication of its annual report.

In September 2014, Network Rail was reclassified as a public body as result of an accounting decision by the Office for National Statistics. Since then the Government have had greater direct oversight of the company. I want to report to the House on Network Rail’s performance and the actions that I am taking to hold it to account.

Some things are working well. Our railways are carrying more passengers than ever before, and journeys have more than doubled since privatisation — they went up on average by 4.2% in the last year alone. Safety has improved, and the reliability of assets on the railways is up. Network Rail reopened the line at Dawlish after the horrendous storms in the time expected. It has opened a new station at Reading ahead of schedule and under budget, and a modernised Birmingham New Street complex will be fully open later this year.

I do not pretend that everything is perfect, however, because it is not. Where performance has fallen below the standards I expect, I want it sorted out. What we saw at Kings Cross at Christmas and at London Bridge earlier this year was unacceptable, and I said so at the time. Since then, Network Rail has demonstrated that it has learned those lessons. I pay tribute to the significant programmes of work it delivered over Easter and the May day bank holidays, but to improve performance we need to invest and we need good management. The truth is that much of this work should have been done decades ago. Successive Governments failed to invest the sums necessary in our rail network, and that is why we find ourselves in the current situation.

When faced with a choice between building the infrastructure our country needs and our railway becoming a brake on growth and opportunity, the Government choose to invest for the future, in projects such as Crossrail in London and HS2. In 2012, the Government set out the most ambitious rail investment programme since the Victorians: a £38 billion programme on enhancing, operating and maintaining the current network. That means hard work and good design; and thousands of people working night after night, sometimes in very difficult conditions. On the 216 miles of the Great Western line alone, Network Rail needs to alter about 170 bridges, lower parts of the track bed, install 14,000 masts of overhead line equipment and electrify parts of the railway constructed by Brunel in the 1830s, so that new British-built fast trains can speed up services and provide more seats and services. Members and their constituents want these improvements, and I am determined that they will happen.

In parts of this programme, Network Rail’s performance has not been good enough. Already, the chief executive and the board are responding. Since joining Network Rail in 2014, the chief executive Mark Carne has reviewed the organisation’s structure, performance and accountability. He has strengthened his team and he has a structure for improvement. I want to see him drive that forward, but there are still challenges. Important aspects of Network Rail’s investment programme are costing more and taking longer: electrification is difficult; the UK supply chain for complex signalling works needs to be stronger; construction rates have been slow; and it has taken longer than expected to obtain planning consents from some local authorities. That is no excuse, however. All those problems could and should have been foreseen by Network Rail, so I want to inform the House of the action I am taking to reset the programme and get it back on track.

First, none of Network Rail’s executive directors will receive a bonus for the past year. The current Chairman, Mr Richard Parry-Jones, is stepping down. His replacement will be the current transport commissioner in London, Sir Peter Hendy, someone of huge experience who helped to keep London moving during the Olympics. I am asking him to develop proposals, by autumn, for how the rail upgrade programme will be carried out. Secondly, I am appointing Richard Brown as a special director of Network Rail with immediate effect. He will update me, and report directly to me, on progress. Thirdly, I intend to simplify Network Rail’s governance by ending the role of the public members. I thank them for their commitment, but the reclassification of Network Rail has changed the organisation’s accountability. Fourthly, it is important that we understand what can be done better in future investment programmes. I have therefore asked Dame Colette Bowe, an experienced economist and regulator, to look at lessons learned and to make recommendations for better investment planning in future. I will publish her report in the autumn.

I know that Members on both sides of the House value the improvements that are planned to the railway in their area. Network Rail’s spending should stay within its funding allowance. Electrification of the Great Western line is a top priority and I want Network Rail to concentrate its efforts on getting that right. On the midland main line, better services can be delivered through works such as speed improvement. Electrification will be paused: I want it to be done and done well; it will be part of our future plans for the route.

Meanwhile, the next franchise for the trans-Pennine route between Leeds and Manchester will bring modern trains and additional capacity. Current work on electrification will be paused, because we need to be much more ambitious for that route, building a powerhouse for the north with a fast, high capacity trans-Pennine electric route. We are working with businesses and cities in the north to make that happen. We have seen electric trains introduced this year between Liverpool and Manchester, and between Liverpool and Wigan, and the work that will see them spread to Bolton and Blackpool is under way.

In the south-east, Crossrail and Thameslink are well under way. In Anglia, we will bring about modern, faster trains to Ipswich and Norwich in the next franchise. For passengers in the south-west, the new contract with First Great Western will provide significant extra capacity. I hope to be able to announce news on further new trains for the region soon.

We will keep commuter rail fares capped in real terms for the whole of this Parliament. People’s earnings will rise more quickly than rail fares—the first time that this has happened since 2002. Passengers want a railway that is better, faster and more reliable than today. Powered by a huge increase in investment and ambition right across the country, that is what they will get. I commend the statement to the House.

[House of Commons, Thursday 25 June 2015]

[Michael Dugher (Barnsley East) (Labour):] I thank the Secretary of State for advance sight of his statement.Let us be absolutely clear: the Government’s total failure to deliver a fit-for-purpose railway has today been completely and damningly exposed. First, the publication of the latest national rail passenger survey — I note the Secretary of State did not mention it—shows that passenger satisfaction has dropped once again. Now we have the Secretary of State announcing that vital investment projects, such as electrification of the midland main line, which he promised to deliver, are being shelved due to his repeated failure to get a grip of Network Rail. The electrification of the trans-Pennine express railway line between Manchester, Leeds and York has also been shelved—so much for the northern powerhouse — and we remain concerned about the future of the electrification of the Great Western line.

The Secretary of State spent the election campaign repeating promises that he knew he would break after the election. That is what has been revealed today. The truth is that passengers have had to endure a catalogue of failure on our railways by Ministers since 2010. There was the Christmas rail chaos, which the Secretary of State referred to, although he neglected to mention that Ministers had been warned about that and failed to act. While delusional Ministers talk about “fair fares” and “comfortable commuting” — which is a world away from the misery for commuters at London Bridge — there have been inflation-busting fare rises of on average more than 20%. We have also seen the collapse of the west coast franchise competition, which cost the taxpayer £50 million. Ministers may try today to shift all the blame to Network Rail, but this happened on the Government’s watch and the responsibility for the mess lays squarely with the Government.

Let me turn to a number of specific questions. Will the Secretary of State confirm that when the Government placed the development of key Network Rail projects on hold for up to two years after the 2010 election, important preparation work was not undertaken, and therefore, as the rail regulator has said, they committed to the projects in 2012 based on “limited development work”? We know that Network Rail started to put together a list of projects that would be axed back in November. Why has it taken so long for the Government to reveal them to the House and to be honest with the travelling public? Crucially, can the Secretary of State confirm that he received a report on 1 September last year on the state of those programmes from Network Rail, his Department and the regulator? He has refused to publish it. Why did he sit on the report and pretend to the public that everything was fine until after the election?

Labour first raised the issue of delays to the Great Western project in the House more than a year ago. Why has it taken so long for the Government to admit that there were fundamental problems with the project? Why did the Secretary of State not listen to the Transport Select Committee six months ago when it warned that key rail enhancement projects had “been announced by Ministers without Network Rail having a clear estimate of what the projects will cost, leading to uncertainty about whether the projects will be delivered on time, or at all”?

Why did he not raise the alarm when the estimated cost of electrifying the midland main line rose from £250 million to £540 million and then to £1.3 billion; or when the cost estimates for Great Western electrification rose from £548 million to £930 million and then to £1.7 billion?

Just two weeks ago, the Secretary of State refused to answer my questions about the need to tackle the failures at Network Rail and whether he was planning changes to Network Rail. Will he explain why he has dithered for so long when he has had the power to exert more ministerial responsibility over Network Rail, including by appointing a special director, since September last year?

The Opposition have warned time and again that fundamental change in how our railways are run is needed, that Ministers need to get a grip, that passengers should have a proper voice and that more public control is needed. We welcome the appointment of Sir Peter Hendy as chairman of Network Rail, and we will look carefully at some of the other announcements that the Government have made.

The news today exposes a catalogue of failure by Ministers, and it deals a fatal blow to the Government’s claim that they are delivering a better railway for passengers. Is it not clear that the Government’s real legacy is one of rail fare hikes, plummeting passenger satisfaction, ongoing disruptions and delays, major projects running years behind schedule, promises of vital investment betrayed, and a railway that is not fit for purpose, and all the while out-of-touch Ministers sat in Whitehall overseeing a complete and utter shambles?

[Mr McLoughlin:] It is true that I have been Transport Secretary for two and a half years. Despite the catalogue of terror that the hon. Gentleman has outlined, over those two and a half years there have been only two occasions on which the Opposition have chosen to debate transport on Opposition days. One was a day after I was appointed, and the other was on the day that the hon. Gentleman’s predecessor was sacked as shadow Transport Secretary. With regard to their warning us and wanting the subject lifted up the political agenda, we have heard nothing from the Opposition, because they are truly embarrassed by their record, whereas we have invested in the railways, lifted them and given encouragement to the railway industry.

Today I have made no cuts whatever to the rail investment strategy — the largest rail investment strategy that has ever taken place. The amount of money invested is exactly the same as it was last week—the budget within which the strategy has to be delivered. I will take no lessons from a Labour party that in 13 years electrified 10 miles of railway lines; we have electrified more this year than it did in all that time. Then there is the £895 million project to rebuild the railways around Reading and to remove major bottlenecks; the £750 million transformation and upgrade of Birmingham New Street station; the refurbishment of Nottingham station, with all the investment going into it. There has been more investment in Nottingham in the last five years than was seen in the 13 years of the last Labour Government. Then there is the new station built at Wakefield; the completed Ipswich Chord and the Doncaster Chord; phase 1 of the £6.5 billion Thameslink project; the completion of Crossrail tunnelling. I could go on a lot more, Mr Speaker. I will take no lectures. I am determined to get on top of, and see the delivery of, those programmes, which are so important for our constituents.

[Northern powercut: has the Tories’ rail revamp reached the end of the line?, Helen Pidd, The Guardian, Thursday 25 June 2015]

[Mr McLoughlin’s] statement to parliament was unclear. He made no promises about the Midlands mainline, but said the government needed to be “much more ambitious” about the TransPennine service. A “fast, high-capacity TransPennine electric route” would be built, he suggested, as part of the “powerhouse for the north”.

It was all a bit vague. No how or when. No firm financial commitment. Just a claim that “We are working with businesses and cities in the north to make that happen.”

[…] Nick Kingsley, managing editor of Railway Gazette, said McLoughlin may actually be making a very sensible decision for the long term.

He said: “Electrification alone doesn’t create much extra capacity. To create the capacity and shorten journey times, really you have to address other, bigger issues, such as adding new track and new signalling. Electrification was never really a gamechanger for connectivity and capacity.

“Obviously we need to see the details, but it may be a wise decision to skip a tricky project, which potentially had limited effect, in favour of one big bang which could deliver the speeds and capacity needed for the future.”

What conclusions might be drawn?

  1. Great Western wiring has eaten the entire budget for Midland wiring (and then some); no-one really knows why.
  2. No-one has much idea of what Midland electrification is supposed to achieve.
  3. Since its announcement in November 2011, no progress has been made in defining what Transpennine rail modernisation should encompass.
  4. Network Rail remains in a state of extreme dysfunction.

Written by beleben

June 26, 2015 at 8:45 am

Posted in Politics, Railways

Tagged with

The economics of Tring Crossrail

with one comment

Over the years, various ideas have been put forward to connect West Coast Main Line tracks into London’s east – west Crossrail system, but none of them were progressed. In August 2014, the idea of connecting the West Coast ac Relief lines was revived by transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin — largely to reduce commuter disruption during the rebuild of Euston station for the prestige HS2 scheme. In the Mayor of London’s London 2050 report, the cost of bringing Crossrail to Tring was given as £150 million, which implied that the connection into Crossrail would make use of the Dudding Hill route.

London Midland commuter trainsets at Euston (Belebenpic)

London Midland commuter trainsets at Euston (Beleben)

Is the cost of ‘WCML Crossrail’ really only around £150 million? And how much disruption relief for a Euston HS2 rebuild would it actually provide? According to a Transport for London document, the computed benefit cost was around 2.5 — but the costs themselves were blacked out.

Transport for London WCML Crossrail Dudding Hill option summary, extract

Transport for London WCML Crossrail, Dudding Hill option summary, extract

And according to a similarly redacted Department for Transport document, the benefit cost was in the region of 0.33 to 0.87.

DfT, WCML Crossrail link, economic appraisal, v3 05 Jan 2015 (redacted by TfL)

DfT, WCML Crossrail link, economic appraisal, v3 05 Jan 2015 (redacted by TfL)

Written by beleben

June 18, 2015 at 2:05 pm

Posted in HS2, London, Politics

Tagged with ,

‘Keep calm, just keep making up stuff’

leave a comment »

It seems that transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin has repeated his “We spent £9 billion upgrading the route north of Rugby” nonsense at the Derby & Derbyshire Rail Forum’s annual conference.

Extract from Railnews story (10 April 2014)

Extract from Railnews story (10 April 2014)

As the Beleben blog revealed in March, the Department for Transport says it “does not hold information” on how much money was spent north of Rugby. Experience suggests that Mr McLoughlin is not someone to rely on for accurate information.

Railnews: Patrick McLoughlin mentioned a benefit-cost ratio of "one per cent"

Railnews: Patrick McLoughlin mentioned a benefit-cost ratio of “one per cent”

Keep Calm And Carry On Spinning

Written by beleben

April 10, 2014 at 1:36 pm

Posted in Great Western, HS2

Tagged with

The men who stare at waves

with one comment

Patrick McLoughlin in 'The men who stare at waves'

Network Rail Media Centre “has appealed for help from the public to stay away” from the site of the severance of the Great Western at Dawlish, “as the combination of heavy machinery, concrete spraying, and the waves means it is not safe to be around”. However, it was apparently safe enough for lumbering transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin to be pointlessly shown around the site on 7 February. A makeshift line of containers has been placed along the seafront in a bid to prevent the breach from worsening.

Written by beleben

February 9, 2014 at 7:07 pm

WSP and the HS2 cargo cult

with one comment

In ‘HS2, railfreight, and carbon emissions‘ the Beleben blog explored the WSP consultancy’s claims about the released-capacity cargo benefits of HS2.

[WSP, 11 January 2013]

HS2 could take 500,000 HGV lorry journeys off the M1, M40 and M6 motorways each year leading to environmental benefits worth over £45 million per annum and saving over 65,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per annum, according to figures published by leading engineering consultancy WSP.

An enhanced version of the claim turned up in a ‘HS2 fightback’ speech by transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin in September 2013.

[Patrick McLoughlin, ‘Benefits of High Speed 2 to Britain and the economy’, 11 September 2013]

In fact one estimate says HS2 will mean half a million fewer lorry trips a day on our main motorways.

So far as can be ascertained, the DfT has yet to retract or correct the claim made by Mr McLoughlin. But as Beleben research has shown, there are a lot of problems with the original claim made by WSP.

HS2 Ltd has belatedly confirmed that their October 2013 released-capacity railfreight claim of ’20 more goods trains per day on the West Coast Main Line’, means 10 in each direction. That is consistent with the Beleben blog’s interpretation of the Department for Transport’s Strategic Case.

Beleben research can reveal that the “500,000 HGVs-a-year” claim is far from being “conservative”, as WSP’s Ian Brooker claimed. For general freight (including containers), Network Rail has stated that one goods train has the equivalent capacity of 43 HGVs. In general, freight trains are scheduled to run 5 days a week (or less), and it is not uncommon for individual paths not to be taken up.

If one made the generous assumption that the 10 released-capacity railfreight trains in each direction operated

  • 6 days a week,
  • at full load,
  • with all paths being taken up,

the annual road-to-rail shift would be (10 * 2 * 43 * 6 * 52) = 268,320 lorry movements. In practice, one would expect the realisable shift to be somewhere between 100,000 and 200,000 movements, which sounds a lot, but isn’t.

HS2 is not a means of enabling transfer of large amounts of goods transport from road to rail; that could only happen with a dispersed investment programme, such as Rail Package 6. In summary, HS2’s railfreight capacity benefits look as meagre as its commuter capacity benefits.

Written by beleben

January 26, 2014 at 3:19 pm

Misinformation feeds HS2 misunderstanding, part two

with 2 comments

Even today, parts of the West Coast Mainline are full, and unable to carry any more trains, according to a post on the tumblr blog ‘hs2northsouthrailline’ carrying the name of transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin.

[25 November 2013]

[…] After both the Commons and the Lords gave overwhelming cross party support for the HS2 Paving Act recently, the high speed rail programme has taken another huge step forward today with the publication of the phase one hybrid bill. This is effectively the government’s planning application for HS2, to give us powers to build and run the railway between London and Birmingham. It is a significant milestone for the project, and one which moves the focus of the HS2 debate from ambition to reality, and from concept to delivery.

Once Royal Assent has been given, we expect to start construction in 2017. That date cannot come too soon because we are already in urgent need of the extra capacity that HS2 will provide.
But I also want opponents of HS2 to consider what we would do as an alternative. We face a very real capacity crisis in this country, and any further short term measures to patch up the current railway would only delay the need for a bigger commitment by a few years, costing us even more in the long run.

Unsurprisingly enough, the hs2northsouthrailline blogpost didn’t identify which parts of the West Coast Main Line are currently ‘full’. Certainly, the Euston — Milton Keynes section is not full (otherwise the forthcoming London Midland Project 110 path increase could not happen). The idea that HS2 provides rail capacity when and where it is most needed, or avoids ‘patching up’ the current railway, has no basis in reality. According to a spokesman for rail industry body the Rail Delivery Group,

[‘HS2 Bill: Parliament gets first glimpse of high speed rail ‘planning application’ as MPs are warned to keep costs down’, Adam Withnall, The Independent, 25 Nov 2013]

“There are a million more services and half a billion more passengers on the railway this year than there were a decade ago. By 2020, a further 400 million journeys will be made annually.

HS2 cannot enable 400 million more journeys to be accommodated on the rail network by 2020. It wouldn’t open until 2026, and in any case, most of those extra journeys would be short distance, and not on lines supposedly relieved by HS2. The whole project is based on misunderstanding and misinformation, and is being driven forward by special interests.

Written by beleben

November 25, 2013 at 9:36 pm

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

Tagged with

HS2 and rail crowding

with 9 comments

The British government’s “fightback” on HS2 has emphasised alleged passenger and freight capacity benefits with more and more outlandish claims. Only a few days ago, transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin’s speech to the Institution of Civil Engineers included a reference to ‘one estimate’ saying ‘HS2 will mean 500,000 fewer lorry trips a day on our main motorways’.

Mr McLoughlin’s response to HS2 critics on BBC Radio 4’s The World At One (26 September 2013, 6 minutes 23 seconds long) on Audioboo included reference to passenger benefits.

[4 min 45 sec] “At the moment, every morning, arriving at Euston station, four thousand people are standing… every day at the moment at New Street station in Birmingham, five thousand people are standing.”

It’s unclear how Mr McLoughlin could know the number of standee passengers arriving at Euston or Birmingham New street “at the moment”.

The figures quoted by Mr McLoughlin appear to be approximations of year 2011 data. The government’s HS2 “guidance” stated, “In 2011, during the morning peak, there were on average 4,000 people standing on arrival into London Euston; and 5,000 people standing on arrival into Birmingham.”

London stations, rail standees, year 2011 (extract)

As can be seen from the Department for Transport data for the year 2011 (above), there were 3,716 Euston standing passengers in the morning peak. But in the year 2012 data, the figure was 2,821; nearer three thousand, than four thousand.

London stations, rail standees, year 2012 (extract)

For Birmingham New Street, at the time of writing, there do not seem to be any year 2012 figures due to an ‘issue’ with the count. For the year 2011, its morning peak standee count was 4,724, on 177 services.

Birmingham peak rail passenger capacity, 2011

What is the relevance of ‘5,000 standing passengers at Birmingham New Street at the moment‘ in 2011, for the case for building HS2?

The New Street 5,000 figure is ‘tous azimuts’, i.e., it includes standing passengers arriving on local and long distance trains from Derby, Bristol, Redditch, Tamworth, Walsall, etc — not just from the Coventry / London corridor that would supposedly be relieved by HS2 in 2026.

Likewise, the Euston standees figure would presumably include those on the urban (‘DC’) lines, as well as London Midland and long distance.

Euston accounts for just over 5% of the capital’s rail peak passenger volume. Far from supporting the case for HS2, the DfT statistical tables suggest that standing / capacity issues are much more acute on other commuter lines (such as those south of the Thames).

Written by beleben

September 27, 2013 at 9:18 am

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

Tagged with , ,

HS2 means ‘half a million fewer lorry trips a day on our main motorways’

with 4 comments


According to prime minister David Cameron, the ‘fightback on HS2 begins today [11 September] with the Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin, highlighting the huge benefits to the UK & our economy’.

[‘Patrick McLoughlin: HS2 will provide vital capacity’, BBC News, 11 Sep 2013]

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has hit back at recent criticism of the HS2 rail project, as a report suggested it could boost the UK economy by £15bn a year.

The study, commissioned by the company responsible for developing and promoting the project, also said most of HS2’s benefits would be felt in the regions and not the capital.

During a speech in London, Mr McLoughlin argued that HS2 was necessary because the “clogged arteries” of the nation’s transport system needed a “heart bypass”.

The report mentioned in the BBC story, was produced by KPMG — one of the special interests sharing in HS2’s multi-million pound consultancy trough. Special interests, conspicuous production and political ‘legacy’, are pivotal in the HS2 scheme, as noted in an article by David S D’Amato on the Institute of Economic Affairs website.

The story of big infrastructure ventures is that of corporate welfare, insolvency and waste palmed off as a catalyst for interconnectedness and economic growth.

As commitment escalates, the claims for HS2 get more and more outlandish. In January 2013, Ian Brooker of the WSP consultancy claimed that HS2 “could take 500,000 HGV lorry journeys off the M1, M40 and M6 motorways each year leading to environmental benefits worth over £45 million per annum”.

Mr Brooker’s claim is less than plausible, but even if it were true, monetised benefits of £45 million per annum are trivial alongside the capital spend required to achieve them by means of HS2 (i.e., £50,000 million). Apparently, in Mr McLoughlin’s 11 September 2013 speech to the Institution of Civil Engineers, the Brooker claim was bumped up by a factor of 365, to become “half a million trips a day on our main motorways”. Presumably, not knowing much about transport, Mr McLoughlin will read out anything Westbourne, et al, put in front of him.


Written by beleben

September 11, 2013 at 2:18 pm

Missing the exit

leave a comment »

Missing the exit can be expensive

The cost of Britain’s HS2 rail project could end up being ‘more than £70 billion’, Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London has claimed.

[“‘Nightmare of consultation and litigation’ will add billion to HS2 says Boris”, Carl Gavaghan, Uxbridge Gazette, Jul 8 2013]

There's no exit strategy?The budget for the line has spiralled up towards £50 billion in recent weeks but writing in today’s (Monday) Daily Telegraph, Boris Johnson said that he believed it would go higher still.
He said: “This thing isn’t going to cost £42 billion, my friends. The real cost is going to be way north of that (keep going till you reach £70 billion, and then keep going).

“That is why the Treasury is starting to panic, and the word around the campfire is that Lord Mandelson is actually doing the bidding of some fainthearts in Whitehall who want to stop it now – not the first or second Lords of the Treasury, clearly, but the beancounters.” […]

From its inception, the Beleben blog has pointed out the muddle, delusion, incompetence, and dissemblance embedded in HS2. The 3 April 2013 blogpost conveyed a clear message on the costs.

An expensive dead endBut when the inevitable admission of HS2 cost ‘misunderestimation’ came, the government chose to ‘jo-moore’ the announcement under the public spending review, and press on almost as if nothing had happened.

Instead of playing down the cost increase, the government had the opportunity of using it as the start point of an HS2 exit strategy. Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin could have announced that the escalating costs, environmental issues, and unresolved connectivity problems meant that the project would need to be subject to an independent review.

Instead, he extended HS2 Ltd’s remit to include “helping make High Speed 2 an Engine for Growth”, and delivering “a comprehensive communications and promotional strategy”.

Written by beleben

July 12, 2013 at 8:33 am

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

Tagged with