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OPEN LETTER TO SIR DAVID

 Dear Sir David

This letter raises seemingly small technicalities.  However, these are straws in the wind which point to a far greater issue.

In response to a FoI request your staff claimed that the organisation does not know the split between business, commuting and other trips.  However, that must be dissembling since, without that fundamental data, it would be impossible to carry out the economic analysis. 

In lieu of an answer, data in the Assumptions report of October 2013 enabled us to make a fairly robust estimate of business trips as a proportion of all trips.  Detail is in the table overleaf. The calculation yields 53.4%, a value which is far above the “one third” cited in paragraph 5.2.13 of the Demand and Appraisal report dated April 2012.

This very substantial and sudden increase arose immediately after the reduction in the value of business time from circa £47 per hour to £32 per hour and the reduction in forecast passengers from 380,000 per day to 310,000.  These changes should have reduced the benefits by 35%, so destroying the economic case.  However, largely as a result of this huge increase in the highly valued business trips the computed benefits increased by 24%!!

Separately from that, here is a particular example of how the railway and HS2 lobbies routinely behave.

Bombardier told the Transport Committee’s inquiry into the Future of Rail, 2003-04, that to move 50,000 people per hour in one direction “we need a 35 metre wide road used by buses or a 9 metre wide track bed for a metro or commuter railway”.In contrast the reality is that one lane of a motor road can carry 1,000 75-seat express coaches per hour at 100 kph thereby offering 75,000 seats in one lane the same width as required by a train.

This disgraceful anecdote is mirrored by the recent claim, made by the DfT, that HS2 will have the same capacity as a 12-lane motorway when, in reality, a single express coach lane would offer nearly four times as many seats as would HS2’s eighteen 1,100-seat trains per hour.

Frankly, the analysis and selling of this scheme is now (and always has been) dishonest: a desperately serious matter since tens, if not hundreds, of billions of pounds are at stake. 

Stewart Joy, Chief Economist to British Railways in the late 1960’s wrote, in his book, ‘The Train that Ran Away’, that there are those who “… were prepared, cynically, to accept the rewards of high office in the British Transport Commission and the railways in return for the unpalatable task of tricking the Government on a mammoth scale.  Those men”, Joy wrote, “were either fools or knaves”; a sentiment which seems to apply with even greater force today than it did in the past.

Against that background, and the attached, I am canvassing people of status (particularly those who work in the railways) to act as whistle-blowers. 

Perhaps you would consider that a preferable course to leaving a smear in the pages of history – the waste of tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of working men’s lives.

Yours sincerely    

Attached:  HS2 - The Questions to ask, the Comment to make

 TABULATION Business trips as a proportion of all trips    

The Economic case for HS2 - PFM v4.3: Assumptions report of October 2013 provides, in Table 3-4: Annualisation factors as follows :

Purpose

Rail

Air

Highway

 

Business 

256

313

275

 

Commuting

254

Na

282

 

Other

416

313

361

 

Average

309

313

306

 

Hence for rail

%biz

If business trips amount to p% of all trips and if commuting trips amount to 25% of business trips, see note, then : (256 x p) + (254 x 0.25 x p) + 416 x (1-p - 0.25 x p) = 309 providing: p = [(416 -309)/((416 - 256) + (416 - 254) x 0.25):

53.4%

Compare the 53.4% with the one-third from paragraph 5.2.13 of the April 2012 Demand and Appraisal report which says one third of the HS2 trips are business trips

33.3%

 Note: Meaning that if p% of trips as a whole are for business then 0.25 times p% are for commuting.  The 25% accords with NTS data table 0407.



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