KPMG, the firm which could not find a £1.5bn hole in the accounts of the Cooperative Bank, have been paid by Government to produce a report which concludes that HS2 will be worth £15bn every year to the UK economy. The majority of the benefits which they claim HS2 will derive to the economy are still based on the idea that no-one works on trains, and that HS2 will result in reduced transport costs which in turn make businesses more productive, due to increased connectivity to labour markets. In total, £12bn of the benefits shown in the report still completely rely on the concept that no-one ever works on trains, and therefore a cash value can be put on any time saved by quicker journeys.
All KPMG have done to come up with that £12bn is say that everyone on a train only earns £35k per year, instead on £70k. KPMG previously produced a report saying that HS2 would cost jobs in Wales, the South West and even though there is due to be a station there, the East Midlands. On Monday, Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin refused to even say that ticket prices would be the same as current transport modes, let alone cheaper. HS1 in Kent is a premium service, compared to other railways.
Stop HS2 Campaign Manager, Joe Rukin decided to go all out with the rail metaphors:
“It seems the big ‘relaunch’ of HS2 consists of rehashing the discredited argument that no-one works on trains. Charles Dickens was proving that wrong 150 years ago, and unlike todays commuters he didn’t have a laptop. Now we are meant to all fall into line because KPMG, the same dodgy accountants who couldn’t find the £1.5bn hole in the Cooperative Bank accounts, have been paid by Government to say HS2 is a great thing. It is telling that the start of their report is full of disclaimers which more or less say that no-one should rely on anything they say.”
“Everyone knows that these are bullshit figures, and to be honest it is really sad that the Government is still all aboard this express train to disaster. It’s time for the Government to pull the emergency stop. With 55% of the public opposed to HS2 they have hit the buffers, they are not convincing anyone. The more they flog this dead horse, they more stupid they loo. All of the arguments for HS2 have been destroyed, they have reached the end of the line, HS2 must terminate here.”
Penny Gaines, Chair of Stop HS2 said:
“The Government has not been able to make the case for HS2 because it is the wrong project for our nation. This is a last ditch attempt with the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister getting personally involved. With the costs going up, and the benefits falling, the Government have been trying to pull in all sorts of spurious rationales for this white elephant. Stop HS2 has seen many of these arguments before, and we’ve proved them wrong already.”
“The Government is currently trying to argue that HS2 is needed because there is not enough capacity on the railways at the moment. Even ignoring the fact that the real shortfall is in commuter traffic, HS2 would do nothing for the typical traveller until it opens 2026, but they will suffer a decade of chaos and disruption at Euston station and numerous places on and off the route. It’s time to put this vanity project out of its misery and cancel it as soon as possible”
Richard Houghton, spokesman for HS2 Action Alliance said:
“It is always depressing when you hear Ministers make statements that they know to be untrue. A quick study of the DfT’s own figures show that Euston is second least crowded London station for long distance travellers – beaten only by HS1. The vastly cheaper alternatives more than meet the Government’s own projected growth for the next 30 years – and these take no account that passenger journeys actually dropped in Q1 of this year.”
“Much has been made of the potential disruptions of upgrades to the WCML but of course the major upgrades have been done and the required developments to release capacity would be tiny in comparison. Indeed the disruption in converting a First Class carriage to a standard one, or from train lengthening is nothing compared to rebuilding Euston and having several platforms out of use for eight years that HS2 requires. But this pragmatic unsexy approach doesn’t fit with the need for a political legacy that is so clear in the Government’s increasingly strident defence of this white elephant.
“Betting £50 billion on a single train line being the solution to the economic woes of the country outside of London really is irresponsible – and doesn’t cover up for the lack of a coherent economic strategy for the regions. It’s time to accept the facts: HS2 is an unnecessary waste of money.”