Transport Select Committee now reports….

The Transport Select Committee report on “Transport and the Economy” was published today.

The TSC report concludes

The Government must ensure that where it approves transport schemes designed to
stimulate economic growth and rebalance the economy, they are supported by
convincing economic development strategies. For major schemes that the
Government is promoting itself, such as High Speed 2, it must work with local and
regional bodies to develop effective economic development strategies that integrate
with its transport proposals. (Paragraph 31)”

Stop HS2 submitted written and oral to the enquiry, which has been looking into what had changed since the Eddington Transport Study was produced in 2006.

The Eddington report concluded that a high speed train network was unlikely to be a priority.  Eddington warned that “the momentum can make such projects difficult – and unpopular – to stop, even when the benefit:cost equation does not stack up, or the environmental and landscape impacts are unacceptable.”

Although the focus of the TSC enquiry was not HS2, it inevitably came up during the oral sessions, and we were asked to give evidence. As we have already posted, the response from witnesses was mixed.

In particular, Prof Henry Overman told the enquiry that “One of the problems is that people tend to take their pet project and basically try to justify support for it, on the basis that it will be transformational, and many of these claims for projects that will be transformational do not materialise once we go ahead and invest large amounts of money.”

On the specific topic of high speed rail Theresa Villiers, told the TSC that “… high-speed rail I believe will provide a major boost to our efforts to address the longstanding prosperity gap between north and south.”

But the TSC report says  “the HS2 business case does not include an assessment of the project’s regeneration impacts and so it is difficult to assess to what extent HS2 is likely deliver regeneration or rebalancing.”

We also welcome the news that the Transport Select Committee, following representations from Daniel Byles MP, Andrea Leadsom MP,  Geoffrey Robinson MP and Tony Baldry MP will be holding an enquiry into HS2.

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21 comments to “Transport Select Committee now reports….”
  1. Perhaps now that it is in the open, that unless you are going to into Bham into London, you will have a longer journey,More people will hopefully wake up to the disruptions HS2 can cause to other services.

    • Except that is not the case. The Paddington main line is to be electrified providing faster services through better acceleration. This will more than offset the two or three minutes stopping time at Old Oak Common.

      How does everyone feel about the current Chiltern Line being linked into HS2? This is likely to be proposed, giving huge travel benefits to the reisdent of the Chilterns. Would you still be against HS2 if that happens?

      • Chiltern has a “long term aspiration” to go north from Aylesbury towards Lutterworth and the M1 /M6 intersection.(as part of their original successful franchise bid )

      • The obvious place to link HS2 and the Chilterns Line would be at Aylesbury Vale Parkway. The Hs2 plans show them a few hundred metres apart, across fields. However, HS2 Ltd have already said that there won’t be enough passengers to have a station in Aylesbury.

  2. Looking at the Barnsley by-election, this coalition’s life-span might not be that great. Now there’s a thought!

    • Election result means nothing here…..there is cross party support for HS2, and against it as well.

      Whats probably needed is a full public inquiry – these are rare in the rail industry, and usually occur post event. But I think it would be common sense to hold one.

      • The 38th report of the Public Accounts Committee, 2006, details the sad story of the wildly optimistic forecasts for Eurostar. I was interested to read this statement from the DfT at the end of the report:
        “The Department told us that it has now learned from all this experience, and that the next time it considered undertaking a major transport project, it would factor more severe downside assumptions into its business case analysis.”

        Could DfT tell us if this happened? How severe were the downside assumptions?

        • Like I said , a full public inquiry interrogating all parties would be very beneficial……

          I think the difference between this and Eurostar is the fact that HS1 and the Channel Tunnel were projects based on aspirations, ie the desire to connect our island to the rest of Europe. As far as I m concerned , HS2 is more aimed at the fact that current capacity of the network will not cope with the demand being put on it. We have already seen passenger numbers rise on the WCML mainly due to the fact there is now a quick frequent and reliable service after the investment was put in. People will use public transport provided it is a more than decent alternative to the car……you only have to look at urban tram services for proof of that.

          • Gary, thank you for your reponse but I’m afraid I don’t buy your explanation of the Eurostar forecast. The forecasters faced exctly the same issues as HS2. They knew how many people travelled to Paris and Brussels. What they had to do was to forecast how many people would change from aircraft to train, how many extra people would travel because of Eurostar and then factor in underlying growth. Bingo! Unfortunately they got it wrong by a factor of more than three. With HS2 it is exactly the same problem except you substitute cars for planes, at least to Birmingham.
            Those of us who have been involved in forecasting for big projects know the game well. You commission market research, select the most optimistic case which delivers the project for your bosses, produce reports of many 100 pages with all sorts of impressive formulae and graphs, mainly tosh, which bamboozle the unitiated into thinking this is a great thing to do. The critical thing is to get the project started because, in the public arena, they are never cancelled – Concorde, Dome etc.
            The great bonus for those who do this work is that when the forecasts are seen to be wrong they have been promoted or have retired. I can hear the defence of Eurostar forecast now. How were we to know air fares would go down so much etc etc? Quite! By the way opponents will obviously use the most alarming forecasts too so I’m not accusing the proponents of being unique in this behaviour.
            What to do? Don’t enter into high risk long term projects unless you have to. If we are going to have nuclear power that will need a decade or so. One thing we can be almost certain about – there will be demand for electricity in 10 year’s time. It would be a very brave person who said don’t build more power stations because we may not need the electricity. By the late 2020’s there may be no fuel available for flying or motoring. Will we be grateful for HS2? Maybe, if you want to go from London to Birmingham. So that’s 1% of the population catered for but what about the other 99%? By then we may all have electic cars, Nissan already selling them, so fuel shortage won’t be too much of a problem for motoring. We may be using 3D Skype version 34 and bitterly regretting not investing in fibre optic cable for all in 2010’s. The HS2 project is too big, too risky and of limited benefit. Where is the imagination?
            By the way are you able to answer my question about the DfT attitude to forecasting?

            • Phillip – I dont know what the dft attitude is to forecasting – is it wildly optimistic or pessimistic??? I honestly dont know…….but of course any sort of long term planning cannot foresee unplanned events which occur in the timeline of the forecast ( such as the banking crisis we have just been through ). Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but doing nothing is simply not an option. As I have stated before, we cannot rely on a supply of oil and coal ( we know that as we can measure reserves ). So electric cars may well be one solution – but of course that still leaves the problem of congestion…..

              Like I said earlier – I m all for a public inquiry into this, which doesnt appear to be on the horizon just now. Maybe the anti HS2 campaigners really should be shouting a lot louder from the rooftops about that…..from what I ve seen so far, your campaign is weak

              By the way , you mention the Millenium Dome , which at the time when it was built, was seen as a joke. I actually attended this when it opened….it was poor I must admit. But nowadays its known as the O2 arena, which has since gained the title of the Worlds Busiests Arena !!

      • I didn’t expect you to know whether DfT forecasting was optimistic or pessimistic, Gary. I was seeking a view. Mine, based on evidence to date, is that they are sort of optimistic, but I could be wrong. Obviously the future is unpredictable and, yes, things happen. That was my point. Don’t go for a ‘big bang’ solution if you don’t have to. Incrementalism is good. I recognise you can’t build a nuclear power station incrementally but, then, the likelihood we will continue to use electricity is the nearest thing to 100% in the world of forecasting. Certainly in the next decade or two.
        Oh, I nearly forgot. The Millennuium Dome. It received roughly half the forecast number of visitors. Not as bad as Eurostar, I admit. It cost us a net £603 million and about £30 million a year until it was ‘sold’ to Anschutz Corporation. As you say it is now wildly successful as the O2 Arena. However what was the trotal cost to the British taxpayer? BA did well out of Concorde for a while – but then we gave it to them!

        • Indeed we gave Concorde to BA – which at the time was still a state owned carrier. The projections for Concorde in its early days were very positive, until we hit the oil crisis in 1973 ( an unforeseen event ), and then options to buy were cancelled leaving both France and the UK to pick up the tab. Your question to me of forecasts seems to have been answered by yourself anyway – to quote ” they are sort of optimistic, but I could be wrong “. – which is just saying what I said with different words. If forecasts were 100% right 100% of the time, then we would all bet on then and become millionaires!! But I cant argue with the fact that rail travel in the UK has seen demand rise on the back of investment over the last 10 years, and based on that evidence of investment v ridership, it seems fair to me to make a forecast based on that – Network Rails own ” Control Periods ” have investment guarenteed within them for a number of years, a percentage of which is for enhancements rather than maintainance.

          As far as I m concerned, and to use your terminology, HS2 is an incremental improvement. Its adding 400 miles to a network of 10000 miles, and at a stroke both improving journey times bewteen our major conurbations, and relieving the strain on a current north/south network which will not cope with the demand we want to put on it. Add in the fact that both Thameslink and Crossrail projects are already under way, and we should have a very credible mass transit system which satisfies the requirements of both our environmental and economic aspirations in the long term.

          Of course this means building the thing in someones back yard – this is always a bone of contention whether it be a rail line, a motorway , or a wind farm!! Indeed I myself have a new motorway right on my doorstep. To be fair, I recieved compensation for noise pollution which doesnt actually exist owing to the mitigating effects of the design.

  3. I’ve already had my say about “Nick the *****’ but was rightly admonished by the Admin. What I want to know is, what does he do for a day job when he’s not playing with his train set?

    • D Owen – you are making yourself look a bit silly with your posts…….which doesnt do the cause of STOPHS2 any favours. Anyone is entitled to a viewpoint on here….the fact that you dont agree with another poster is not an excuse to make what could be considered derogatory remarks. Stick to the script……

  4. If you dislike what is written on this site why do you continue to waffle on it Nick.It is obvious that you will not
    change your oppinion so why unless you feel that you will wear us down and we will pack up and go home and
    leave the country destroyed for our children.You would have to find another hobby then.

  5. i agree with you finmere at least the rational fact finding can start you guys had better start doing some research to back your statements up lol ! as far as this site being informative we agree to disagree. seems more like disinformation to me.

    • i am also not sure of how much ” independent objective scrutiny” we will get from those mp against hs2 they seem to be shall we say more economical with the verite then some ! but that is politics for you.

      • The Transport Select Committee is made up a range of MPs with a variety of views. The day Stop HS2 was questioned, they also questioned Alison Munro of HS2 Ltd.

        If the video is still available on the TSC website, you will see that they were much harder on Joe Rukin speaking against HS2, then they were on her, speaking in favour of HS2.

  6. It is good news that the transport select committee is to look into HS2. The case will never be settled by people with entrenched views ranting and slagging off the other side on the stopHS2 website. The value of this site is to inform and to update.

    Tony Baldry (MP for North Oxfordshire) has recently said re the transport select committee enquiry:

    “I understand that the focus will be on the economic case for and/or against the project. This seems to me to be entirely sensible. There has so far been no independent objective scrutiny of the case for HS2.”

    He said the inquiry would “cross-examine the proponents of HS2 and to test their case and to consider whether the money being spent on HS2 could be better spent in other ways on our transport infrastructure”.

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