Letter from Paul Withrington of Transport Watch to the Times.
12 Redland Drive Northampton NN2 8QE
Phone 01604 847438
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The Times LETTERS,
RAIL FIASCO AT HIGH SPEED
The case for High Speed Rail is a fraud upon the nation. Here is why.
The headline cost of the network out to Leeds and Manchesteris £33bn. That excludes the trains at £8bn and tax at 20.9%. Adding those provides a headline of £50bn or £2,000 for every household in the land. The financial loss, presuming the ludicrous passenger forecasts ever arise, will be of the same order.
In January 2012 the reported benefits amounted to £44.1bn sourced as follows: - £5.2bn for improved reliability, which is nonsense - trains could be made to run on time without spending tens of billions. £6.7bn for relief of crowding most of which could be solved by adding a couple of carriages to peak-hour trains; £5.5bn for "other rail user impacts”, yet more nonsense and £2.1bn for "other impacts”. The remaining £24.6bn depends on the discredited assumption that time on a train is entirely wasted.
Worse still the benefits assume no risk associated with the wildly optimistic passenger forecasts - requiring up to 18 1000-seat trains per hour each way.
Rather than returning £2 for every pound spent, as pretended, the return will be nearer 50 pence. That at a time when rail is used overwhelmingly by the better off and when nearly half of us use a train less than once a year, let alone a high speed one.
The 100,000 jobs that the Y network is said to create will have cost £500,000 each. Instead of transforming the economy this scheme will destroy jobs in that part of it which makes a profit.
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