Despite the huge financial risks and recurring records of failure and late delivery, large infrastructure projects are much coveted by politicians seeking a legacy. There is too often scant regard for how much it will cost taxpayers.
Bent Flyvbjerg, the Chair of Major Programme Management at Oxford University's Saïd Business School has identified “four sublimes” that drive the development of megaprojects :
- Political: The rapture politicians get from building monuments to themselves and their causes, and from the visibility this generates with the public and media
- Technological: The excitement engineers and technologists get in pushing the envelope for what is possible in "longest-tallest-fastest" type of projects
- Economic: The delight business people and trade unions get from making lots of money and jobs off megaprojects, including for contractors, workers in construction and transportation, consultants, bankers, investors, landowners, lawyers, and developers
- Aesthetic: The pleasure designers and people who love good design get from building and using something very large that is also iconic and beautiful, like the Golden Gate Bridge
It’s all too easy to see how HS2 checks every one of the “four sublime” boxes.
Our new research shows what HS2 would cost if it goes as over budget as a variety of other transport infrastructure projects have done.