Another HS2 report admits 'people do do work on trains'

It's the fifth 'business case' for HS2 - but this time the government reckons it's got it right.

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 27 Oct 2014

HS2 has been the subject of political infighting for what MT’s mother would call ‘absolutely yonks’. Reports have been commissioned, findings have been slated and new reports have been commissioned, all to get approval for a railway line that will make getting to Birmingham 35 minutes quicker.

The latest ‘business case’ was published this morning. It’s the fifth published so far, but this time its writers reckon they’ve got it right.

To start with, this time around they haven’t forgotten that people do actually do work on trains (although if ‘people’ are anything like MT, they entirely plan to do work but then end up reading Heat and fiddling with their iPhones for two hours).

They’ve also factored in a £10bn increase in the estimated cost of the scheme, which has now risen to £42.3bn. With those two factors in mind, the expected benefit-to-cost ratio has dropped from £2.50 per pound spent to £2.30. It’s the details that count…

It’s not just the benefit-to-cost ratio that’s important, though: a report out yesterday argued that if HS2 isn’t given the go-ahead, there will have to be 2,770 weekend closures on the East Coast, West Coast and Midland main lines while the lines are upgraded to cope with the increase in passenger numbers predicted over the next few years. That’s 14 years of closures.   

But the anti-HS2 camp point out that even if the government does decide to build HS2 right now, it won’t be ready until 2027 – exactly 14 years from now.

‘[This means] there would be no change for passengers until the middle of next decade,’ pointed out Stop HS2’s Penny Gaines.

Still: you can’t argue with the idea of getting from London to Manchester in an hour. Although Heat magazine might have to do a special, streamlined HS2 edition…

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