New HS2AA advertisement campaign highlights ‘law of diminishing returns’ for HS2

11 May 2012 – A new advertising campaign targeting MPs and members of the Lords through political magazines is being launched by High Speed 2 Action Alliance (HS2AA) today.  The advertisement addresses the ‘law of diminishing returns’ in relation to High Speed Rail Two (HS2) and its claimed economic and welfare benefits.

Despite using out of date information, ignoring the realities of modern working practices and the alternatives to HS2 the DFT has been forced to reduce the Benefit Cost Ratio (BCR) for HS2 to as little as £1.20 for every pound of tax payers money spent on Phase 1. The full ‘Y’ route delivers a BCR of just £1.40.  The 2013 planned hybrid bill only covers phase 1 of HS2.

The DfT has also been forced to admit that the best alternative to HS2 (from 51M) offers a BCR of more than five pounds per pound spent.

If the current rail demand forecast model and the November 2011 Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is factored in the BCR for both phases of HS2 dip well below £1.

The ads explain that the Department for Transport (DfT) is: – using an outdated rail forecast model – using data from 2001 on business people’s earnings – assuming that all time on trains is wasted – ignoring, as well as deliberately over inflating, the cost of practical and real alternatives to HS2

Hammond In his submission to the Transport Select Committee, the previous Minister for Transport, Philip Hammond stated “A BCR of 2.6 is quite reasonable for a train project.  If it was to fall much below 1.5 I would certainly put it under some very close scrutiny.”

Just yesterday Philip Hammond, now Minster for Defence, said about another hugely expensive project “When the facts change, the responsible thing to do is to examine the decision made and be willing to change, however inconvenient that may be”.   HS2AA hopes that the current Transport Minister is willing to change her mind on HS2 as Hammond has been on Navy jets.

Public Accounts Committee The Public Accounts Committee has been highly critical of the HS2 business case and the assumptions it includes around passenger forecasts and projected costs.  HS2 was given an Amber/Red grading by the Cabinet Gateway process with the Major Projects Authority.  The Chair of the committee described this as “not good enough”.

Commenting on the advertisements, Hilary Wharf, director, HS2AA, said; “With the UK firmly in the grip of recession it is critical that the Government only invests in projects that will give all of the country a real return.  All the facts point to HS2 not being such a project. How much more evidence does the Government need for it to finally cancel this folly?”

Note for editors:

HS2 Action Alliance is the national organisation making the powerful case against HS2. It is a not for profit organisation working with over 70 local groups, who all believe HS2 does not represent an effective answer to the UK’s transport, economic or environmental needs.  They have undertaken detailed evaluations of the business case for HS2.  Their April 2012 update is available on the website. Since 2010 they have also been pressing for fair compensation.  HS2AA Ltd are currently taking two separate Judicial Review actions against Government (on the environment and on compensation).  The advertisements highlighting the ever diminishing business case are appearing in the House magazine in Total politics this month.

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