Revisions requested by Transport Select Committee destroy HS2 Business Case

8thNovember 2011– Today’s Transport Select Committee (TSC) report on High Speed Rail Two (HS2) recommends revisions that destroy the business plan case for the £30 billion project, according to opponents of the scheme.

Value of Productivity Gains

In its report, the TSC has called for a revised business plan with ‘a lower value attached to time savings’ (para 69). With faster journey time gains equating to 40 percent of the hoped for economic return delivered by HS2, any reduction in their value pushes the project below the Government’s stated minimum acceptable Net Benefit Return of 1.5.

In addition, if the value of time saved is reduced the need for ultra-high speed rail – which cannot follow existing transport corridors – is removed and alternatives to HS2 become more attractive.  The TSC said that the slower routes were prematurely ruled out (para 68).

Alternatives to HS2

The report also demands that the Government must explain in detail why HS2 is better than alternative solutions (para 107).  A full review of priorities for the rail network and detailed plans for alternatives to HS2 are detailed at

18 trains an hour

To meet the passenger demand projected by HS2 Ltd and the Department for Transport HS2 will need to run 18 trains an hour on the new line.  The TSC report raises concerns on the technical feasibility of HS2, pointing out that “18 trains an hour on a high speed line has not been attempted elsewhere” (para 116).

Specialist consultants SYSTRAsuggest that delivering this number of trains will require “significant technical and engineering developments”. While HS2 Ltd has stated it will be possible using technology that will be available in the middle of this decade, they have as yet failed to provide evidence of this.

Commenting on the report, Bruce Weston, of HS2 Action Alliance said:

‘When you get past the headlines, the Select Committee has almost as many misgivings about HS2 as we do.

They agree that the value of time savings is exaggerated, that opting for very high speed is therefore questionable, that the alternatives to a new railway have had insufficient attention, and that the planned intensity of services is a technical risk.

They are unhappy with the consultation process, feeling that the decision should not be taken before a proper case for the Y is published and consulted upon.

When you work all this through the case for HS2 simply falls apart.”