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Open Letter to Sir David Higgins 3rd February 2017

Dear Sir David,

This is an open letter. It follows mine or 3rd January.

Astonishingly only circa 50% of the HS2 benefits are due to reduced train time, a factor not hitherto noticed by the Transport Committee of the House of Commons or by the Economic Affairs Committee of the House of Lords. 

Four of the other items are implausible.

  • £1.1bn is due to improve access, which may very well be worse.
  • £4.1bn is due to quicker interchange which may also be worse.
  • £1.3bn is due to reduced walking, despite the trains being up to 400 metres in length, affecting not just walking but also interchange and access.
  • £5.5bn is due to improved reliability, as though the trains cannot be made to run on time without building a vastly expensive high speed network.

Those items provide £12bn, or one fifth, of the computed benefits. Striking them out would destroy the economic case, let alone that, as in our previous letter, the in-train time benefits are illusory for business passengers and probably for commuters and leisure travellers, both enjoying a good read or snooze the while.

What penalty do you think should be imposed on those who have so misled the Government and the Transport Committee over this scheme?

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