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Chiltern Railways and our local train service

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The quality of our local train service is an issue for many of us. I sometimes use the trains to commute to Parliament during the working week and I know that many constituents do the same on a much more regular basis. I have been recently contacted by the Department of Transport with the opportunity to raise any comments or concerns about the franchise, so I have written to the Minister about the following issues: Whether Chiltern Railways could introduce a season ticket that is […]

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HS2 update: Treasury Committee calls for review of the economic case

The Treasury Select Committee has stated that the economic case for HS2 must be reassessed and updated before the Treasury signs off on the project. In its Latest Spending Round 2013 review the Committee said that, given the recent report by KPMG and published by HS2 Ltd setting out the regional economic impacts, the Treasury must produce its own economic case for HS2. The Committee wrote: The Treasury should not allow HS2 to proceed until it is sure the cost-benefit analysis for […]

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New report: HS2 alternatives from the 51m Alliance

The 51m Alliance of nineteen local authorities opposed to HS2 (including Bucks County Council) have recently launched their ‘Alternative Investment Strategy’. It challenges the current DfT rationale of ‘capacity’ being the main reason for HS2 and proposes a comprehensive package of national investment in infrastructure to rebalance the nation’s economy. In its executive summary, 51M Alliance said: The local authorities in 51m are fully committed to investing in key infrastructure critical for the country’s future success. 51m has already set out […]

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HS2 update

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Earlier today, Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee released its latest report on the early programme preparation of High Speed Rail 2. The report draws into sharp focus the spiraling costs of the programme and the weak case for it: The Department for Transport has not yet presented a convincing case for the now £42.6 billion investment it is proposing to invest in High Speed 2. The estimates of costs and benefits are still far from finalised and the pattern so far […]

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HS2 – a study in why politicians make bad choices

Yesterday, a number of us voted against the preparatory bill for High Speed 2. I remain opposed for the reasons I have given. As if the economic case were not weak enough already, yesterday another £10 billion was added to the cost: Patrick McLoughlin said that the projected cost has risen from £33billion to £42.6billion because of a significant “contingency” fund to cover the cost of potential problems with the programme. This excludes the cost of the rolling stock, billions […]

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Cheryl Gillan MP: After the West Coast Main Line trouble, the case for HS2 needs to be fundamentally re-examined Comment

The decision earlier this week by the Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin, to scrap the West Coast Main Line contract has brought into question the overall integrity of the Department for Transport’s decision-making process. With this in mind, I believe that a root and branch re-examination of the whole of the High Speed 2 rail project and its viability is now essential. Read more via Cheryl Gillan MP: After the West Coast Main Line trouble, the case for HS2 needs to […]

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Justine Greening must review HS2 in the public interest

I’m grateful to StopHS2 for drawing my attention to this video of the Public Accounts Committee hearing at which it was revealed HS2 has a Cabinet Office Major Projects Authority status of red/amber: As The Guardian reported: The latest figures issued by the HS2 high-speed rail scheme have revised down the economic benefits for the fourth time – suggesting the scheme will barely, if ever, break even. Originally the scheme was forecast to bring £2.40 of benefit for every pound […]

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The rail fares and ticketing review – closes 28 Jun 2012

Via Rail fares and ticketing review – Consultations – Department for Transport: The Government’s goal for rail fares and ticketing is to allow more passengers to travel and to have a better experience of rail, at the same time as reducing rail industry costs. This consultation is designed to gather evidence to inform the Government’s Rail Fares and Ticketing Review. The consultation document is 115 pages, so I feel sure most busy commuters will not have time for it. It’s […]

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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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