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The 51M ‘Optimised Alternative’

As we reported last week,the Department for Transport know they have been making errors, and downgraded the BCR (benefit cost ratio) for HS2.

Alternative schemes become even more attractive compared to HS2 than they already are.

One of these is the ‘Optimised Alternative’, developed last year by the 51M group of councils. (Full details can be found on their website – download the details here.)

The 51M alternative is a series of incremental upgrades which more then meets the Department for Transport’s expected growth in demand for passengers. And more crucially it does it far cheaper then HS2 with, with a significantly higher BCR then HS2.

A report for the government by Atkins, published in January shows this: Atkins was asked by the Department for Transport “to appraise a set of strategic alternatives to the government’s overall proposed high-speed rail strategy for a Y-shaped network linking London with Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds”.

The report estimates that 51m’s proposals to increase long-distance capacity on the west coast main line by lengthening the trains to 12 cars, reducing the number of first-class carriages and running additional peak long-distance services, offered the taxpayer a return of £6.06 for every pound invested. In contrast, the government’s official BCR is now only 1.2 for the first phase of HS2 – assuming the Department for Transport have made no more mistakes in their models.

The former transport secretary,Philip Hammond told the transport select committee: “As rail projects go, a benefit-cost ratio of 2.6 is quite reasonable. If it were to fall much below 1.5, I would certainly be putting it under some very close scrutiny.”

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4 comments to “The 51M ‘Optimised Alternative’”
  1. It is now obvious that the reason this ridiculous HS2 scheme still continues is purely political. Every argument put forward in favour has been beaten, every batch of figures and statistics has been shown to be false or seriously flawed. In the name of sanity, we must stop HS2 from going any further. We must not waiver like David Liddington who seems to think we cannot win. The reason many in Paliament would vote for it is that they, like many people not directly affected, have little idea of the costs, the lack of real benefit to people and the huge damage it would cause both to the countryside, peoples quality of life and the public purse.

      • Another one!
        I think you mean that all reasonable arguments against have been ignored and will continue to be ignored in case the government loses face over yet another u-turn. As we voters all know the government cannot possibly ever be wrong can they Morris?
        It isn’t possible that they could continue to build aircraft carriers for which they are now considering having to not buy the US aircraft that were going to populate them because they cannot afford them is it?
        Are they also now going to “consult and listen” with people over the ridiculous charity tax?
        Were they wrong on the proposed conservatory tax that they are now dropping?
        Wrong on selling off 140 nature reserves ending up in a u-turn?
        Reversing a decision to cut school sports within a month?
        Stoking up people’s fears over a fuel tanker drivers strike?
        Wrong over HS1’s passenger loading?
        Wrong to lower the top rate of tax effectively handing a tax cut to the highest earners in the country?

        I am glad that you have an unnerring faith in this shambolic affair and a solid belief that the government is right. However as each day passes and even the government’s own reports are showing that the so called “business case” is error ridden surely anyone with a small amount of intelligence must be worried that this is not right.

        As for your comment “any and all arguments put forward by the stop Hs2 has been beaten”, they have not been beaten as they have just been swept under the carpet in the same way that Greening did not even mention the results of the consultation as it is an inconvenient truth that does not fit with the story. There has been no reasonable debate and the consultation was and continues to be a sham.

        However if you are happy to take joy in other people’s discomfort and watch as a lot of money is given to foreign interests to build and run this “absolute necessity” then so be it.

      • You cant beat an argument with bias and fallacy. In fact believing that something was “beaten” is a fallacy. What happened was it was ignored out of fear and desperation by a flawed process. Congratulations you idiots!

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