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NORTHANTS COUNTY COUNCIL HS2 DEBATE 17th May 2012

COUNTY COUNCIL MEETING - HS2 DEBATE 17TH MAY 2012

Transport-Watch statement

The cost for the “Y” is often quoted as £32bn or £33bn. However that excludes the trains at £8bn and tax of 20.9%. Adding those provides £49 billion or nearly £2,000 for every household in the land.

The financial loss, after accruing fares out to the remote year of 2093, has the range £24.1bn  to 26.3bn at the 2011 price and discount base.  Rolling that up at the Treasury discount rate of 3.5% to the opening year of 2033 yields circa £54bn, or over £2,000 for every household in the land.  That is the actuarial loss at 2011 prices that will be facing those standing in 2033 - A tax hit of £570,000,000 on this County alone – assuming the fares out to the remote year of 2093 actually arise.

(That at a time when rail is used overwhelmingly by the better off and when nearly half of us use a train less than once a year, let alone a high speed one.)

The supposed social benefits (again at the 2011 price and discount base) amount to £44.1bn.  However, £5.2bn is for improved reliability – rubbish, I say, trains could be made to run on time without spending tens of billions.  A further £6.7bn is for reduced crowding - rubbish, most of that could be solved by adding a couple of carriages to peak-hour trains. Another £5.5bn is for “other rail user impacts” and £2.1bn for “other impacts”; again suspected rubbish.   That is a total of £19.5bn of rubbish.  The remaining £24.6bn of benefits assumes time is entirely wasted on a train – really it does.   

Rather than benefits of £44.1bn the value is likely to be e.g. three to five times less ranging from £9bn to £16bn compared with costs less fares of £25 bn.

Worse still, no risk has been associated with the wildly optimistic passenger forecasts - requiring up to 18 1000-seat trains per hour each way.

My view is that the economic and business cases for this scheme are a fraud upon the public and politicians alike.  Instead of benefiting the nation, the vast subsidy needed will destroy jobs across the land – a mill stone round our necks for ever and ever.

Against that background why on earth is the County Council supporting this scheme – to the extent of canvassing for a new station that would cost tens, if not hundreds, of millions of pounds?

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Sources

Economic Case for HS2: Updated appraisal of transport user benefits and wider economic benefits  A report to Government by HS2 Ltd  January 2012:

Table 6 – Capital cost estimates for the full Y Network.

Table 9 – HS2 Y Network quantified costs and benefits.

Ref. High Speed HS2 NCC 17TH MAY 2012


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