Today’s “Research Note” from the so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance (TPA) attacking the proposed high speed rail project (aka HS2) contains the usual TPA list, this time of places that, it alleges, will be worse off if HS2 goes ahead. So let’s look at the list put forward and see how it stacks up.
Once again, the TPA takes the purely illustrative service level shown in the HS2 documentation for non-HS2 services, and assumes it to be cast in stone. So their talk of journey time penalties is speculation. Also, they assume no connection between Birmingham’s New Street station and the HS2 one – so that’s more speculation.
Midland Main Line
Here we encounter the biggest and most blatant whopper in the TPA exercise: the assumption that this route, from London’s St Pancras terminus to the East Midlands and Sheffield, will be electrified in the near future and enjoy the benefits of journey time reductions and more line capacity, but only if HS2 does not go ahead.
Maybe the TPA could tell Network Rail (NR) about their miraculous discovery: NR’s press release on the current electrification programme, released yesterday, does not mention any new electrification for that route. Once again, the TPA is engaging in speculation, and doubly so by suggesting that electrification versus HS2 is some kind of zero sum game.
East Coast Main Line
Here the TPA has difficulty making its mind up. For Doncaster and Wakefield we are told “service frequency and journey times likely to deteriorate” on completion of HS2. But for York – reached by passing through Doncaster – we get “no capacity increase” because two services an hour are now routed via HS2. The idea that there may still be a fast service from York via Doncaster is not considered. Once again, this is speculation.
And, of course, no evidence is cited to back up the claim on journey time. It’s tired stuff, which resorts once more to using the illustrative character of the HS2 documentation as fact, as it states that this “shows no high speed trains north of Newcastle”. So is the TPA seriously suggesting that the lack of a line on a diagram prevents trains working north of Newcastle?This is truly desperate stuff. And no proposals to increase capacity are outlined or costed for the latter two routes. Time for the TPA to put up or shut up.