The so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance (TPA) has engaged the services of consultant Chris Stokes – not a “senior rail manager” as has been previously claimed – to generate another “Research Note” on the HS2 project. This in reality is another pile of freshly steaming knocking copy filled with red herrings, unfounded assumptions, and occasional pure invention.
In this post the supposed “additional costs” claimed by the TPA for HS2 are considered: a further post will deal with the blatantly misleading remainder of the TPA’s latest attempt to derail HS2, which makes spurious comparisons with Eurostar, dishonestly presents the situation on high speed services from London into Kent, and misleads on matters in Spain and the Netherlands.
But the additional costs Stokes identifies can be dealt with directly, and his first “extra” is £10 billion for “Crossrail 2”. He asserts that this will be required to relieve congestion on the Tube network at Euston, solely because of HS2. This is complete drivel: the additional demand on both Tube and Sub-Surface Lines (SSLs) is 2%, which additional capacity on the Victoria Line alone will absorb.
Moreover, gaining access to the eastern end of Euston Square station on the SSLs will further enhance the capacity of the Underground network to easily accommodate any future growth due to HS2. This additional cost – which in true TPA style is a suspiciously round number – is an invention.
Stokes also identifies another £10 billion “extra”, this being supposed competition costs. He tells of “unfettered competition” between HS2 and other rail services. He wrongly assumes that the Government will allow capacity freed up by HS2 to be used by as yet unspecified competing services, which they will not. This cost – another all too round number – is yet another invention.
Another assumption made by Stokes is that £5.4 billion which would be saved by reductions in other passenger services would not be made. His evidence for this is in the form of comments made by Transport Minister Theresa Villiers, but she did not commit to keeping the services covered. This is yet another invention.
Lastly, an additional £3 billion has been added to the TPA’s figures for “mitigating impact”: this suggests that more of the HS2 route will be put in tunnel to produce an outcome acceptable to residents in the Greater London area. But no detail is entered into, and it will not be: the best that Stokes can manage is to recycle comments made by Boris Johnson in the early stages of his bid for re-election as Mayor.
So the £3 billion is yet another invention. The rest of the TPA’s figures, which follow from Stokes’ assumptions, are therefore worthless. Another one for the bin.