Thanks Patrick-Secretary of State Helps Build Case Against HS2

This week the case against HS2  got a major boost from an unlikely source- the Secretary of State for Transport. His  announcement that high speed mobile broadband will be introduced on the busiest parts of Britain’s rail network provides a further  blow against the case for the new line.

The Secretary of State for Transport’s commitment to improving mobile signal on trains would see 70% of the travelling public  benefit from the new technology by 2019, with passengers expected to begin noticing improvements to their journey during 2015. You can read the full details of Mr McLoughlin’s announcement here.

It would appear from this announcement that the Department for Transport has finally realised that people do actually work on trains.

That’s important because 55%  of the £28 billion of  benefits the Government predicts will result from HS2 are based on the assumption that all time spent on trains is wasted.

Despite time on trains clearly not being wasted given people plainly do work on trains, these incorrect assumptions continue to be used resulting in an inaccurately high Benefit Cost Ratio (BCR) for HS2. Using more realistic figures (and based on the Department for Transport’s own research that shows only half the time is unproductive) reduces the BCR (excluding Wider Economic Impacts) for the full Y route from 1.9 to 1.3.  However once Wi-Fi has been installed across the rail network in line with this week’s announcement from the Secretary of State, the BCR would fall  considerably below 1.

Patrick McLoughlin even seems to recognise just how useful time on trains is for catching up with work-as he said “Be it hardworking commuters preparing for the day on their journey into work or leisure travellers making final plans for their weekend away, today’s announcement marks the beginning of the end of poor coverage on our railways.”

Hilary Wharf, Director, HS2 Action Alliance;

We would like to thank Patrick McLoughlin for making the case for HS2 even weaker. Adding fast broadband connections to trains further undermines HS2’s already laughable business case. 55% of the economic benefit that HS2 is forecast to deliver is made up by spurious productivity gains based on the assumption that nobody works on trains.  It is time for the fundamentals of the whole project to be reviewed before even more tax payer’s money is wasted on this white elephant.”

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