Friday, 16 September 2011

Not the full story - again

The TaxPayers Alliance have released another research note on HS2, one in which they maintain that costs for HS2 could well rise by £28billion. On 27th July I posted what might be termed a reprimand of the TPA in which I accused them of ignoring the elephant in the room, needless to say that being the European Union. With this latest paper it is unfortunate that they are again guilty of the same error. Whilst the TPA are correct to concentrate on the economics angle I feel they are missing a few points in their analysis with some the assertions made, the reasons for which have not being fully explained. (I have posted previously on the subject of HS2, for example here, here, here and here.)

Whilst their research paper deals with what may be termed 'installation costs' they appear to have failed to actually analyse some statements that are quoted in their paper. For example:

Page 5: The TPA asserts that Ministers have argued that Britain must invest in high speed rail to keep pace with other countries, yet they make no attempt to de-bunk that statement for the lie that it is.

Page 6: Philip Hammond is quoted as stating that he hopes that competition amongst rail companies could mean cheaper fares.

Page 7: The TPA assert that fares across the network may well be raised to plug the black hole they allege in the cost of HS2.

The fact that Britain must invest in high speed rail is driven by the European Union and their Trans-European Network (Transport) policy, a policy built on the premise that travel for people and goods, from one region of the EU to another must be improved. The lie is that our need to invest in high speed rail is not a case of 'keeping up with the Jones' but that it is driven by requirements imposed on us by Brussels. There is one matter on the horizon that torpedoes the last two statements and that is the EU's policy, one in the pipeline for implementation, that 'user pays' and one that forbids any national government subsidy. This I covered here, a post which links to a story on user pays in the Mail. So Philip Hammond is being his usual disingenuous self by offering the carrot that fares could be cheaper, when he must know they won't and never can be; and the TPA, had they done their homework, would know that fares most definitely will be raised - and probably more than they believe - and it won't be just to plug their alleged black-hole.

That any government's rail policy in the UK is but a Pandora's Box with the hydra of the European Union within is amply illustrated by this piece of research by Ian Parker-Joseph. As he writes:
"UK Government railway policy - Or rather EU Railway policy studies that successive UK Governments (1999-2011) have sold to the British people as their own work. There are of course no vested interests…"
To which can now be added HS2................


Anonymous said...

As long as Philip Hammond vaguely hopes for something without any clear idea of how this will become a reality, then an open-ended committment to a total white-elephant vanity project, may not work out entirely well.

The John Galt line this is not.

Our one hope is that this will never happen.

WitteringsfromWitney said...

Saot: Your first paragraph sums up, I think, any political policy and/or decision - and as such requires no further comment from me.