HS2: Cameron and Osborne have allowed through a thoroughly bad project – 1, Simon Jenkins’ nutshell
Putting the matter in a nutshell, Simon Jenkins earlier wrote: “Taxpayers must now find £1bn a year in interest payments alone, so a few rich business people can get to Birmingham half an hour earlier.”
From another article – found in archives – Simon Jenkins makes many good points:
- Super-speed rail is suitable for countries with cheap energy and long distances between stops, which is not England. It is costly in electricity and depends on premium fares to pay its way.
- The benefit/cost ratio has plummeted to 1.6, meaning that for every £6 spent on the project, only £1 would be gained in economic terms. Such a poor rate of return is normally enough to kill any project.
- The new railway will . . . be voracious of carbon and do little to ease road congestion.
- To be remotely commercial, it must charge high fares – projected to rise at 27 per cent over inflation – and be largely a replacement service for business travellers from Euston, whose first-class carriages are often near empty.
- Commercial lobbyists claim that HS2 would be ‘worth £55bn to business’, which makes it odd that they are not risking a penny on it.
- Taxpayers must now find £1bn a year in interest payments alone, so a few rich business people can get to Birmingham half an hour earlier.
Cameron and Osborne should never again complain about Labour debts. They have allowed through a thoroughly bad project.
2: Overview of the rail industry
3: Reason why this project got off the ground: HS2 lobbyists are embedded in the Whitehall machine led by contractors and consultants.