Embarrassed DfT create spurious statistics to cover up their poor business case for HS2

Embarrassed DfT create spurious statistics to cover up their poor business case

15 February 2012: DfT yesterday respond to HS2AA’s 13 February letter about legal action by quoting figures to suggest HS2 delivers £4 of benefit for every additional £1 spent. This was misleading. It is at least three times better than the real facts that DfT themselves published in January when they took their decision to proceed with HS2, and it’s still worse than the prudent and much better alternative of uprating WCML, that delivers more than £5 benefit.

Bruce Weston, Director HS2AA, says “DfT’s January 2012 business case makes absolutely clear that HS2 delivers just £1.40 benefit for every £1 subsidy for London to West Midlands phase, and £1.6 to £1.9 for the full Y. This is of course before using the latest economic and rail demand forecast tools – which DfT say wipes £0.5 off these figures ie the £1.4 drops to just 90 pence benefit for every £1 spent. These are not our figures, they are DfT’s.

“Even this is based on DfT still assuming that every minute of time spent on board is wasted – which they now admit is not true. Adjust for that, which accounts for more than 50% of the schemes benefits, and any shred of a business case has evaporated”

“DfT are choosing to ignore the alternative of uprating WCML that is three times better value for money, again according to their own numbers. It produces £5.17 benefit for every £1 subsidy and more than meets the DfT long distance rail demand forecast. Even Network Rail did not contest this” he added.

At a time when UK are facing further pressure on Government spending HS2 is the wrong priority and makes no economic sense.


For more information please contact: Richard Houghton,  Tel: 07803 178 037 richardwhoughton@gmail.com


DfT responded to the press statement about HS2AA’s legal challenge of HS2 saying “HS2 delivered £4 of benefit for every additional £1 spent compared to a new conventional-speed line.” This was misleading. It was not the figures used to support DfT’s decision to proceed with HS2

DfT asked Atkins to assess the 51m alternative of uprating WCML (which has less first class, longer trains and tackles four pinchpoints on the line). Their results were also published in January 2012, alongside those for HS2, and showed a BCR (benefit cost ratio) of 5.17 (excluding Wider Economic Impacts). This compares with 1.4 for HS2 phase 1 and 1.6/1.9 for the Y (also excluding Wider Economic Impacts).

Both the Transport Select Committee and Network Rail have looked at the capacity that the 51m alternative produced. Neither dispute that it enables a more than doubling in standard class capacity, and tripling, when the four pinchpoints are addressed. So the alternative more than meets the doubling in long distance rail demand that DfT forecast. Network Rail criticised it for not meeting surburban capacity ie commuter capacity – which was never the purpose of either HS2 or the 51m alternative.