Timmy elsewhere

At the ASI.

The HS2 argument now seems to be that we should build it to employ engineers so that more train to become engineers so that we must build more infrastructure.

13 thoughts on “Timmy elsewhere”

  1. The Cameroon seems set to make the vanity mistake made by so many Spanish politicians.

    Unjustified infrastructures for prices that make my eyes water just trying to imagine them.

    A few minutes on a train trip is nothing. Repeat, NOTHING.

    So many ways to waste so much money and so little time to do it in. HS2 solves that conundrum.

  2. The arts community have been successfully using the same argument for subsidy for decades, so it’s not as if it isn’t a tried & tested formula.

  3. Accepting the arguments against (some of which are quite good) outnumber the arguments for ( eeerm… to save 20 mins on a train trip? ) I still can’t help myself but be of the opinion that of the many pointless things government may piss our money all over this is one of the least bad, and that at least there will be something worth while at the end of it.

    I cannot understand how it can possibly cost so much, even so, and inthe hands of a genuine private investor I suspect it would cost half as much. Or less.

  4. When thinking of HS2 I always do this thought experiment. If you went to the Midlands and told them there was £40bn to spend on transport improvements, how many of them would say the most important thing is to shave twenty minutes off the train journey to London. That alone tells you it’s all about the politicians in London.

  5. It was a white elephant that had no possibility of ever being commercially viable when it was £35 billion.

    With Hyperloop being developed it will be an obsolete £80 bn white elephant before it runs.

    The £80 bn is last weeks figure. It may be optimistic.

  6. The first public, steam-hauled passenger railway opened in 1825. (The station is a stone’s throw from my house, as it happens.) Seventy-five years later, Britain had 22,000 miles of rail, all privately funded.

    In the 1840s you could get 8,000 miles of railway for £200 million (about equivalent to annual GDP at the time), much of which consisted of bribes.

    Why can that not be done now?

  7. Oh come on, the twenty minute thing is nonsense. HS2 is High Speed Two, not High Speed Stand Alone. It’s part of a larger plan which (if it comes to fruition) will eventually see it become possible to take a high-speed train from the north of the UK all the way via Birmingham, London and the Channel Tunnel to connect up with the European high-speed rail system.

    Given that everyone insists on pretending the whole scheme’s ‘just to save 20 minutes’, I rather suspect the bigger picture is harder to argue with.

    The only problem with HS2 is the ludicrous, bonkers, barmy cost-projections. HS1 cost £6bn for half the distance, which gives a pretty good yardstick, especially given that it ought to include the same government-work inflation.

    For £10bn, the whole scheme makes much more sense.

  8. Ian Bennett>

    The original railways were constructed with private capital, but since each required a private bill to be passed by Parliament, there was certainly a significant value to the government licenses the railway companies were granted but did not pay for. On a project of this scale it’s not a case of all one, or all the other, but of getting the right balance between public and private.

  9. Dave,

    are you really trying to argue that a government project is going to come in significantly under budgeted cost?

  10. “.. possible to take a high-speed train from the north of the UK all the way via Birmingham, London and the Channel Tunnel to connect up with the European high-speed rail system.”

    Yet doesn’t HS2 terminate at Euston, whereas HS1 starts at St Pancras? What the fuck is that all about?

    Otherwise, I’m probable like-minded. If they’re going to spend a fuckton of money on a political penis extension, then this, at least, has the potential to be useful. Particularly by better connecting the rest of the core cities – both with Lundun and with each other.

    And it’s not just about faster journeys, isn’t it also a big (and necessary) increase in capacity which isn’t possible on existing lines?

    Lastly, as a non-Londoner, it’s not escaped me that the level of criticism aimed at HS2 by the wider community (i.e. not just those who are perpetually critical of this sort of thing) seems to be an awful lot more prominent than that aimed at developments in and around London itself. When it comes to infrastructure, there seems a lot of whatever the opposite of nimbyism is (that would be ‘imbyism’, I suppose).

  11. Emil>

    You seem to be misunderstanding me a lot these last couple of days. No, definitely not suggesting the government could bring it in under budget. I was talking about the price it ought to be possible to do the job before.


    “Yet doesn’t HS2 terminate at Euston, whereas HS1 starts at St Pancras? What the fuck is that all about?”

    The tracks to Euston and Kings Cross diverge near Chalk Farm – about a mile away. I dare say the whole thing needs some upgrading to handle the traffic, but there aren’t big problems connecting the two. Euston and Kings Cross are practically terminals of the same station, in long-distance terms.

    Not, of course, that doing things sensibly is on the agenda. But if it was, there aren’t big problems with the idea of getting a proper HS mainline built. We ought to be looking at a total bill of £20-30bn to get it all the way to Scotland, and at that price – spread over the twenty or thirty years it’d take to build the whole thing – it’s so much more persuasive.

    I should admit to a bias, though: I think high-speed rail is normally by far the most civilised way to travel over intra-European distances, and I think it’s about time we built plenty more of it. And can we please bring back widespread motor-rail while we’re at it?

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