From “Now Let Us Remove the Blight”.
The HS2 business case uses rail passenger trends from the pre-internet past and projects them forward into the post-internet future. This sounded credible to MP’s, but it is the same as predicting the internet will not, in 75 years, have any effect on rail-passenger numbers.
The Department for Transport (DfT) has never experienced the internet affecting their rail passenger numbers. This is because the internet has not yet developed far enough to give us High Definition Video Links over an optic-fibre network. When this is in nearly all businesses and the majority of homes it will be at both ends of the large majority of all rail passengers journeys. At this point the internet will start to permanently downsize the rail passenger industry.
A new optic fibre developed by BT’s is said to be ‘flexible enough to go anywhere that a copper wire can go’, and ‘robust enough to be stapled’; it will greatly reduce the costs of installing optic-fibre in our homes, and so accelerate the U.K.’s ongoing transition from copper wire to a fully optic-fibre delivered internet.
Move on ten years and almost everyone will have access to the Highest Definition Video Links over optic-fibres giving them the capability to see anyone, or group of people, they wish either on a computer screen, or projected on their wall, for almost free.
So a rail passenger will leave a desk with an almost free to use optic-fibre video link on it, to go to the station to travel on Europe’s most expensive trains to see someone else with an optic-fibre video link
sitting beside them…
Or with a click, he could save 99.9% of the time of travelling by train, and 99.9% of the cost of a rail ticket, and have a High Definition Virtual Meeting with the people he used to travel by train to see.
If today’s rail passenger industry is represented by a cake, the optic-fibre internet will permanently take a slice out of the cake – the slice that will go missing are all the passengers for whom seeing someone virtually, either because they chose to, or were commercially forced to, has removed their need to travel by train.
Today we cannot say what size this lost slice will be; it could equally be 20% or 30% or 40% or 50%? This reduction may happen over a decade or more, and will carry on until this major internet induced wave of change in passenger behaviour has passed, when the downsized industry will begin growing with GDP again, or until another wave of change.
The higher the DfT’s passenger forecasts the more money we give them, so they deliberately ignored this very major but unquantifiable downsizing in the rail-passenger industry.
The most credible outlook for the industry is not the DfT’s forever upward passenger forecasts, but passenger numbers that are flat or downwards over the next 20 years as this powerful wave of internet effects permanently removes a slice of the industry.
All of the Government’s accountancy risk-assessors who have looked at HS2 so far, the Major Projects Authority (MPA) who gave it the Red/Amber status, and the Public Accounts Committee (watch the committee members disbelief at the DfT’s assumptions DfT ignored rise in video-conferencing, “Gobsmacked” at DfT’s HS2 passenger demand figures, HS2 figures “shocking, biased and bonkers” ), next will be the National Audit Office who are about to start work on it, all are exposing the staggering scale of the accounting distortions and deliberately hidden internet risk in the HS2 business case.
The DfT chose to hide this internets downsizing risk from naive Ministers. It has now been exposed by the accountants, so there is nothing the DfT can say to the Major Projects Authority to get this project up-graded, the game is over – so HS2 will not be built.
The tragedy for those on HS2’s route is that the repeated failures of Philip Hammond and Justine Greening to expose the obvious deception has allowed solid lines and detailed designs to be drawn across virgin countryside before any unbiased accountants even looked at the project.
By failing to convince the Government accountants that a need for HS2 exists, or has ever existed, they have proved this project never was in the National Interest.