HS2 Questions

Examining the issues around the proposed High Speed 2 route

What does the Transport Select Committee really say about HS2?

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There is a discrepancy between the TSC press release headline and the body of the report, which asks for information that well destroy the case for HS2 and sends the DfT back to the drawing board.

Here’s an analysis from HS2AA.

Transport Select Committee report on High Speed Rail – 8 November

Although the Transport Select Committee supports a high speed rail network and believes HS2 could be part of it, they have about as many misgivings as we do.  And when followed through these misgivings are fatal to the case for HS2.

They find a host of problems with the economic case, its environmental impact, treatment of alternatives, technical issues, even problems with consultation itself – all which adds up to scheme that needs to go back to the drawing board.


  • Calls for a revised business case using a lower value of time, as what has been used is not a sound basis for justifying HS2 (para 69) – and say the revised basis should also apply in assessing the alternatives to a new railway
  • Questions the case for very high speed: by excessively valuing speed the decision to go for 250 mph ‘prematurely ruled out other route options’ that follow existing transport corridors (para 68)
  • Observes that the alternatives have not been properly examined
  • Doesn’t believe the case has been made that aviation will reduce (para 76) – even with the full Y. And not surprisingly they also say that the claims of substantial carbon reduction benefits ‘don’t stand scrutiny’ (para 77).
  • Advises Government to place greater emphasis on following existing transport corridors – to reduce its local environmental impact and effect on the Chilterns AONB (para 83). The revised business case should place a value on natural capital
  • Considers the case for the best way of serving Heathrow needs clarifying (para 104)
  • Say insufficient attention has been given to the economic case for the London terminus arrangements
  • Is dissatisfied that basic information on the Y network was not provided for the public consultation, nor a proper assessment of the impact on rebalancing the economy, given the reliance placed on these (para 63).  TSC recommend no decision is taken on Phase 1 until such Phase 2 information is produced, appraised and consulted on (para 87)
  • Agree that 18 trains per hour at 225km/hr is a risk factor, ‘not attempted elsewhere’, – despite government claims, and calls on them to publish the full details (para 116)
  • Recommend that Government expressly show that investment in classic rail will not suffer as a result of HS2 (conclusion para 4) – hard to see Government achieving this given Villiers’ recent statement about the Northern Hub not being affordable!

Finally, they confirm our figure work on the arithmetic of what capacity the alternatives produce (annex 2).  And they concede it ‘might meet the background passenger growth forecast to 2043 at peak times’ (para 39). 

But they then move the goal posts and appeal to the recent unprecedented period of rail growth continuing indefinitely into the future. But this ignores DfT’s own forecast and is highly implausible given other trends in domestic travel.


Written by hs2questions

November 8, 2011 at 8:44 pm

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