Welcome To Zelo Street!

This is a blog of liberal stance and independent mind

Sunday 18 August 2013

HS2 Bashing – Here Comes The IEA

Today has brought another propaganda onslaught against the HS2 project from both the Mail and Telegraph, and although the papers use different sources in support, as Mrs Beckermann told Charlie Croker in The Italian Job, It Wasn’t An Accident. While the Mail’s screaming headline – “A Stake In The Heart Of Middle England” – is a blatant over-egging of the pudding, that in the Tel has a “real report” behind it.
May look something like this. May not, though

Let’s get the Mail out of the way first: much of this almost hysterical piece is based on the routes that will be taken by HS2 site traffic. At no point are readers told how much traffic already uses any of the roads concerned, nor how much site traffic there will be, and nor is there any idea given of the hours during which movements may occur. It is then backed up with forthright dishonesty.

Such is the desperation within Northcliffe House that we are told of “spending £50 billion to shave five minutes off the rail journey between London and Birmingham”. Phase 1 of HS2 will cost rather less than half that amount, and someone missed the 3 before the 5. Here there is a connection with the Tel’s piece, that being the imaginative use of Big Scary Numbers.

The numbers come courtesy of a sneak preview given by the Institute Of Economic Affairs (IEA), which by the most fortunate of coincidences was already opposed to HS2. Its report “will suggest ministers are pursing the project to ‘buy votes’ in Labour’s northern heartlands”. Er, hello? There will be four General Elections before HS2 Phase 2 is completed. No party can look that far ahead.

But the IEA report does, we are told, contain 58 pages, and is therefore “the biggest independent piece of research yet into the cost of HS2”. Very good: the IEA ain’t independent, and rather more than 58 pages’ worth of HS2 knocking copy has passed before my examination in the recent past. And the central argument of the IEA report has been used before.

This is the concept of adding the capital cost of other transport schemes to that for HS2, on the pretext that those using one may then use the other. An example, I suspect, will be the westward extension of the Nottingham tram system to eventually terminate at the proposed HS2 station near Toton. The problem with this argument is that it is the tram which benefits from HS2, not the other way about.

That was what invalidated the attempt by the so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance (TPA) to add the cost of Crossrail 2 to the HS2 business case, because the former might serve London’s Euston terminus when complete. The TPA’s contention was bunk, as anything similar from the IEA will be. And save us the “other transport projects with a better cost-benefit ratio”. If HS2 was canned, the IEA would be agin those too.

So bring on the IEA report. It can’t be worse than what has gone before. Or can it?


Anonymous said...

Toton is west of Nottingham!

Tim Fenton said...

Just testing ;-) and duly corrected! Thanks.

SteveB said...

58 pages? The consultation maps run to more than that!

They may have a point but not the one they are making. The government have made a fatal mistake, they haven't contracted the whole damn thing out to their opposite numbers in Germany or France. Instead they are letting DfT people get involved. So, think of an overrun and treble it.

Richard Gadsden said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Richard Gadsden said...

I've got to page 15.

"Waterloo is just a three-minute ride by Underground train from Bank ... St Pancras, however, was less convenient for many travellers".

No precise timings from St Pancras, because it would expose the lie.

Thameslink to City Thameslink is seven minutes - and the change inside St Pancras is quicker than the one inside Waterloo.

City Thameslink is closer to the London Stock Exchange than Bank.

The footnote on this one is "[C]alculated using Transport for London's Journey Planner" - that would be the one that avoids including a National Rail journey like Thameslink.

SteveB said...

More about "Waterloo is just a three-minute ride by Underground train from Bank ... St Pancras, however, was less convenient for many travellers".

When you've just stood for 25 minutes in a passport queue that duplicates the one you stood in before you got on the Eurostar because the right wingers are a bit nervous about who would have been on the train, quibbling over a few minutes difference in transfer time that one or two passengers might have to face is a bit rich. Not to mention the fact that St Pancras is over 30 minutes closer to the tunnel than Waterloo! They may as well have pointed out that if we'd kept the SE&CR steamer service to the Continent and the boat trains to Cannon St then people could walk to Bank!

But much, much more important than a few financial types who can afford taxis across London anyway, the St Pancras Eurostar terminal is only 10 easy minutes walk from Euston and therefore benefits the people of Crewe!!