HS2 Questions

Examining the issues around the proposed High Speed 2 route

HS2: When will the cover-up scandal emerge?

with 2 comments

The Government is deceiving the public on the benefits of HS2 and covering up the existence of a better alternative.

Government Cover up

Rail Package 2 (RP2) is a better option than HS2 but the Government is hiding this alternative. RP2 would increase West Coast Main Line (WCML) capacity by more than 135%, leaving trains less crowded than with HS2 option. It was developed by Atkins for the Department of Transport (DfT), for a net cost of just £2bn compared with £11.9bn for the London to Birmingham HS2 leg, and has a Net Benefit Ratio (NBR) of 3.63 compared with 2.4 for HS2.

However, the Government has buried this alternative. In the Government’s Command Paper, HS2 is compared with the only variant of RP2 with a worse NBR than HS2. And Theresa Villiers has said that an upgrade of the West Coast Main Line would cost more then HS2 and only deliver 50% of the capacity requirement.

Questions will be raised in Parliament on misrepresentation.

Inflated benefits

Meanwhile, the supposed benefits of HS2 have been deliberately distorted and as a result it seems that the true NBR is under 1, that is, costs are greater than benefits.

Secretary of State for Transport Philip Hammond has admitted that their ‘Value of Time’ assumptions are wrong but has not corrected this even though it accounts for around a half of all the HS2 benefits. Not only do they ignore the usefulness of time on board, but they then use 10-yr old income data that inflates their answers.

Distorted demand

Furthermore, HS2 Ltd has also gone out on a limb on their demand forecast.

  • They are expecting 133% background growth to 2033, compared with Network Rail’s 70% estimate; plus
  • A further 133% uplift as a result of the existence of HS2. This does not look credible. The uplift from the last WCML upgrade was only two thirds the proportional increase forecast for HS2, despite the upgrade achieving greater improvements to services than HS2.

Other concerns include the use of an out of date version of the forecasting handbook. Using the current handbook that has lower growth factors would significantly reduce the apparent benefit of HS2 and scale of capacity needed.

A question will also be raised in Parliament on why new forecast guidelines, that cap growth at a lower level than is used, have been awaiting the Secretary of State’s signature since April 2010. Using these guidelines would also reduce the HS2 benefit

Impact of cover-up

The Government are thus hiding the existence of a relatively inexpensive alternative to HS2 that if implemented would free up money for investment in more modest but desperately needed rail investments.   Electrification of the Great Western Line is one example, as is the Northern Hub investment that would transform rail links in the North and would have a far greater impact on the North South divide than any High Speed Line from London.


Written by hs2questions

February 24, 2011 at 2:54 pm

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  1. We are supposed to live in an ‘open’ free & democratic society – with previously unimaginable change now coming about across the globe thanks to the internet it seem incredible to think that our government thinks it can get away with misleading the british public – the truth will out – they must be held accountable for these plans and their attempts to deliberately mislead us all for this vanity project. If they went to a bank manager to ask for a loan with these proposals, after he’d finished laughing, he would show them the door pretty sharpish. How can they be allowed to lie like this? Why is the media so quick to swallow what Hammond says – why isn’t someone like Paxman on the case pulling his statement’s to shreds?

    Adi Nuff

    February 24, 2011 at 5:54 pm

  2. Thankgoodness this coverup has been exposed .Tax payers money is precious especially at this time.We need the whole country to benifit from what they pay in.They need need the updating of the whole network rail and buses.It is incredible how often the bus timetables do not link up.This especially crazy in rural areas with infrequent services.


    February 24, 2011 at 7:33 pm

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