High-Speed 2 or Medium-Fast 1?

June 30, 2016 11:16 AM

Many doubts have been raised over High-Speed 2 but it may even need to be renamed Medium-Fast 1.

The Times reports advice that the trains should be slowed by 65 mph in order to save money on this “crazy” project.

The former Chief Scientific adviser to the Department for Transport, Roderick Smith, said that that the £55.7 billion scheme was simply too expensive to deliver maximum value for money.

Smith said that for the distances involved, the aim to travel at 250 mph was unnecessary and advised that the train be run consistently below 200mph in order to improve efficiency.

To do this he advised that the trains should operate on a sealed track system rather than running partly on existing lines. This would mean that the train would not have to slow down for other trains at key connecting points.

He also argued that costs could be cut by almost 50 per cent down towards £30 billion, which would certainly be better news for taxpayers, even if this is still a foolish project.

Aside from the sealed track, Smith suggested that the 13 platform HS2 station is a “grotesque” waste of money and that five platforms with faster turnaround time could work just as well.

Other recent criticism adds weight to the notion that HS2 is looking increasingly like a spectacular white elephant which will not deliver value for money for taxpayers.

The National Audit Office has already said this week that due to the project “facing cost and time pressures. The unrealistic timetable set for HS2 Ltd by the Department means they are not as ready to deliver as they hoped to be at this point”. Put simply, they expect the project to be over budget and delivered late.

Perhaps it wouldbe cheaper just to move Birmingham 20 minutes closer to London?

Infrastructure spending is vital, but it is also important that this money is spent well, not on vanity projects. For example, it would make more sense to spend HS2’s enormous budget improving transport links in the North of England, Wales or the South West of England.

Either way, instead of falling for the sunk costs fallacy, we should look to scrap this failing project. 

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