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Rail: did we win the Cold War then suffer a Communist takeover?

I had a series of exchanges recently at the Transport Committee on the subject of rail regulation which illustrated how far economic regulation has drifted from economic reality. The transcript is here. The Chief Executive of Network Rail appears not to appreciate the role of price and freedom to contract, or at least he is prepared to submit to the Office of Rail Regulation’s subversion of those mechanisms: Q39 Steve Baker: Sir David, you talked about trade-offs, the fight for […]

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NAO report shows HS1 is a financial disaster

Today, the National Audit Office publishes a report that demonstates HS1 is a financial disaster and radically confirms the doubts and fears of opponents of HS2. The report reveals that  passenger demand has fallen far short of forecasts and government guarantees are kicking in so “the Department is now responsible for servicing and repaying the project debt. We estimate that net taxpayer support may reach £10,200 million”. The calculation used to justify HS1 was that transport benefits, wider economic impacts and regeneration benefits would amount to a […]

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HS2: FOI rejected for West Coast Main Line peak time loadings

Last December during a Transport Select Committee oral evidence meeting, I asked the Transport Secretary, Justine Greening, a number of questions regarding the refusal of a Freedom of Information request relating to the West Coast Main Line peak time loadings. I wrote to the Transport Secretary as means of a follow up. Here is an extract of the response I received: My written response of 16 December 2011 to the Committee confirmed that, though the Department of Transport has – […]

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HS2 consultants’ services have already cost over £25 million

Last month, I put down a written Parliamentary Question to the Secretary of State for Transport, asking for the remit and cost of the consultants involved in the High Speed Two project. You can read my question and the answer in Hansard here and the text is below. As you can see, these costs have already run to over £25 million… Steve Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport which consultants are being or have been used on the High […]

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Survival of the unfittest: why the worst infrastructure gets built—and what we can do about it

Via Survival of the unfittest: why the worst infrastructure gets built—and what we can do about it: […] Taken together, the UK and US studies both account well for existing data on cost underestimation and benefit overestimation. Both studies falsify the notion that in situations with high political and organizational pressure the underestimation of costs and overestimation of benefits is caused by non-intentional technical error or optimism bias. Both studies support the view that in such situations promoters and forecasters […]

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51m’s response to the HS2 decision

Via 51m.co.uk, Councils opposing HS2 say that although they have no objections to the principle of high speed rail, they will continue to fight the current flawed proposals, following news that the Government plans to press ahead with the £32 billion project. Leaders will be examining the decision and considering whether there are grounds for a legal challenge. “This is an immensely bad decision for Britain,” said Martin Tett, Chairman of the 51m alliance of local councils challenging the scheme, […]

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The Government’s decision on HS2

The Government has announced its decision on HS2: The Government has decided to proceed with the development and delivery of a new national high speed rail network to provide the capacity that Britain needs to compete and grow. I just left the Chamber after listening to the oral statement and a good number of colleagues’ questions. The mood is overwhelmingly in favour, on both sides of the House. I remain convinced of the point of view I put to the […]

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Criticising HS2 via the FT

Via High-speed rail link must be built, economists insist – FT.com: Steve Baker, MP for Wycombe, said he was unconvinced that the huge cost of the scheme was justified. “The maths doesn’t add up; this is just sinking capital into a lossmaking project. If you’re going to use the power of the state to do that, then you shouldn’t be surprised that this country is getting poorer.” I’m grateful to Guido Fawkes for making this his quote of the day.

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Voters turn against HS2

Via AGAHST: Nearly two thirds of population opposed to money being spent on HS2 A YouGov public opinion poll has found that nearly two thirds of the public oppose money being spent on the planned £32 billion high speed rail link between London and Birmingham (HS2). 64 per cent of those surveyed in the poll (commissioned by groups opposed to HS2) believe that it is wrong to spend money on the proposed line at this time. In June this year […]

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Extra £500m for high-speed rail tunnel to protect Chilterns – Telegraph

Ministers have found an extra £500million to pay for a new tunnel under the Chilterns to pacify MPs who have been protesting against the high speed rail link between London and Birmingham, The Daily Telegraph can disclose. via Extra £500m for high-speed rail tunnel to protect Chilterns at The Telegraph. I have no further information. The project still wouldn’t make sense, but at least the AONB would not be scarred. That would be little compensation when finally the penny drops […]

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