HS2 and the railway network : the case for a review
Tony May and Jonathan Tyler
High Speed 2 [HS2] has been promoted as a means of improving rail capacity and connectivity between London and the North of England, rebalancing the UK economy and increasing sustainability. It remains controversial, with concerns over its opportunity cost, its independence from the classic rail network, its environmental damage and its wider economic impacts. Assessed against its four objectives:
- HS2 does add to rail capacity, but there are much less costly and environmentally damaging ways of doing so;
- HS2 provides only limited improvements to connectivity, and will worsen London services for several cities, as well as many cross-country journeys;
- HS2’s wider economic benefits for the North are uncertain – investment in the North is a more certain way of providing them; and
- HS2 contributes nothing to the objective of reducing carbon emissions from transport.
A much fuller range of policy options should have been considered to meet these objectives. These include improvements to reduce the adverse impacts of HS2, alternative high-speed routes better integrated with the classic network, lower-speed but better-connected rail enhancements, investments within the North of England, and other lower-cost interventions.
These policy options must now be reviewed objectively, transparently and dispassionately against a set of scenarios reflecting the inherent uncertainties in economic and technological developments. This will take time and will inevitably involve some delay to the implementation of HS2, should it be broadly endorsed by the review. The delay should be minimised as far as possible, but it should not be used as a reason for pressing ahead unquestioningly with a scheme that has attracted so much expert criticism.
This report summarises the conclusions of a workshop6 convened to discuss these issues. It was designed to involve experts with a wide range of views. The report is intended to reflect the majority view, but inevitably its conclusions are not equally endorsed by all participants.
Here is my completely different alternative - a scheme to restore pretty much all of the local rail network closed by Beeching in the 1960s and before, returning the railway system's extent to its pre-First World War extent but with ultra-light-weight, solar-powered trains and all for the price of HS2.
The unanswerable question at the heart of transport is the one asked by the farm labourer standing bemused one day in the mid-eighteenth century at the side of the Liverpool-Manchester turnpike, crowded with urgently-speeding coaches: “Who would ever have thought that there were so many people in the wrong place?”
From Lean Logic ~
David Fleming 1940-2010
From Lean Logic ~