We’d like to think that the ministers at the Department for Transport read some of the material we send them about high speed rail (we don’t think Justine Greening has, and her Parliamentary Private Secretary Andrew Jones was a vocal supporter of HS2 long before his appointment.)
So it was rather nice on Thursday to find that perhaps Philip Hammond, the former Secretary of State for Transport, has taken some note when he used a quote that’s been widely used by campaingers against HS2.
He said, referencing Keynes on the subject of fighter jets
“The 2010 SDSR decision on carriers was right at the time, but the facts have changed and therefore so too must our approach. This government will not blindly pursue projects and ignore cost growth and delays,” said the defence secretary.
As an example at the lobby day organised by Stop HS2 in October 2010, Chris Stokes started his review of the HS2 Business Case saying
“A year ago, he would have said he was in favour of High Speed Rail. However having looked at the detail of HS2′s business case, he shares John Maynard Keynes view that when the facts change, he changes his mind.”
Given the increasingly dire benefit cost ratio for HS2, now well under the 1.5 which Philip Hammond told the Transport Select Committee would be enough to make him look again at the project, it would appear that the DfT facts on HS2 have changed. It would be nice to think that Hammond’s replacement is willing to have a good look at the HS2 business case again.