NAO Report Undermines Fundamentals of HS2 Business Plan
National Audit Office Report Undermines Fundamentals of HS2 Business Plan
16th May 2013 – The National Audit’s report on HS2 – “High Speed 2: A review of early programme preparation” – attacks the fundamentals of the £35 billion line’s business case.
Despite not having a clear justification or a robust business case, the DfT are going ahead with this hugely costly project. They have already spent £250 million of tax payers’ money and are now trying to speed up the project.
The report identifies a large number of issues, including;
1. Rebalancing the economy – there is little evidence of how HS2 will address the North/South divide
2. 10 year old data – to calculate the benefits for business travellers the DFT has used over 10 year old data. These benefits make up 67 percent (£12.6 billion) of the £18.8 net transport benefits proposed for phase 1.
3. Working on trains – DfT uses simplified methodology that assumes no business people work on trains currently. The report highlights that DfT research does show that people work on trains, so the value of benefits should be reduced.
4. Over-estimated demand – DfT used its latest lower growth model for the WCML franchise competition in 2011, but decided to use the outdated high growth model for HS2’s August 2012 business case. This causes DfT to over-estimate HS2’s benefits.
5. Premium fares – no analysis has been done on the reduction in passenger numbers as a result of HS2 charging premium prices when compared to current train services. An advance London to Birmingham ticket on Chiltern Railways can be bought for as little as £6.00 currently.
6. £3.3 billion black hole – the NAO estimates that there is a £3.3 billion funding gap over four years (2017-18 to 2020-21) which the Government has yet to decide how to fill
7. Business case unclear – it is unclear if the business case covers the route between London to Birmingham or the full ‘Y’ to Manchester and Leeds. The economic case for the ‘Y’ is much less certain than phase 1 as route designs are less well developed.
Commenting on the report, Hilary Wharf, director, HS2AA said;
“The NAO’s report highlights the failings in the fundamentals of HS2’s business case and is a scathing indictment of the bogus case Government has constructed.
“HS2 simply cannot withstand independent scrutiny. The NAO joins a long list of independent bodies and economists who find HS2’s planning and business case woefully lacking.
“NAO catalogue numerous failings, from DfT’s assumptions on valuing journey time savings – incredibly half the claimed benefits depend on no one working on trains – to finding little evidence HS2 rebalances the economy.
“It is astounding that Government – rather than dropping HS2 and saving £35bn of taxpayers’ money – table a Preparation bill to waste money even faster.”
Notes to editors:
Paving Bill shows HS2 project is off track - 8 May 2013
8th May 2013: Despite the spin, the Paving Bill introduced in the Queen’s Speech is not part of the HS2 approval process set out by Government in January 2012. It is needed because the troubled project is over budget and urgently requires additional funds. It also recognises that the original plan to have the Hybrid Bill (also announced in the Queen’s Speech) approved by Parliament before the next general election in 2015 will not now happen.
Two realities underpin the announcement;
The HS2 project is over budget
HS2 is significantly over budget already, before a single mile of track has been constructed. The costs of construction have increased, on official figures, from £33 billion in 2012, to £34.5 billion in 2013. The project has already overspent its 2012/13 budget and the Paving Bill enables HS2 Ltd to spend more. It is a clear case of throwing good money after bad.
HS2 is behind schedule
Original plans were for the Hybrid Bill process (needed for planning permission for Phase 1 of HS2) to begin in October 2013 and be complete by May 2015, before the election. Due to the level of opposition to the project, this timetable is no longer achievable. The new Paving Bill diverts attention from this delay.
The Paving Bill will not enable a single mile of track to be constructed or a new train to be ordered – just provide even more money to be spent on consultants.
The Paving Bill should be an opportunity for Parliament to scrutinise some of the most troubling questions surrounding the project. These include;
How will HS2 be funded? The DfT’s capital budget is already shrinking by 11% over this Parliament. With the Chancellor due to announce further cuts in next month’s public spending round, HS2 could hoover up all available funding for transport, or will the North and councils on the route have to stump up a levy?
What is the real cost of HS2? Oddly the Government say there are no charges for the capital required to build HS2. Clearly the real costs will be much higher than Government admit. Is this the right time to devote tens of billions of pounds of Government subsidy on a white elephant?
HS2 and jobs. HS2 is actually killing jobs right now. There are over 20,000 ‘shovel-ready’ jobs either being scrapped or put at risk due to land being earmarked for HS2 construction.
Evidence for the claims about growth and regenerating the North. Heralded as the solution to regeneration of the North, claims that HS2 will create jobs don’t stand up to scrutiny. Leading transport economists and transport planners have gone on record to confirm this.
Commenting on the announcement of the Paving Bill, Hilary Wharf, director HS2 Action Alliance said;
“At a time when all other government departments are being told to scrutinise their spending and make cuts, the DfT will be given more money for a massively wasteful project. It flies in the face of common sense to keep throwing money at a project with a flawed business case, which is environmentally destructive and won’t be built for decades - if ever.
At what point will MPs wake up to what they could do for the country, including the North, with a £34bn plus pot of gold?”
Notes to editors:
Government lose nerve at the last minute on HS2 consultation - 26 April 2013
Government lose nerve at the last minute on HS2 consultation
26 April 2013: Four days before the latest HS2 consultation closes - on an Interim Exceptional Hardship Scheme (EHS) compensation scheme for the Phase 2 route - the Government has finally conceded to HS2AA’s complaints about withholding relevant information from consultees.
HS2AA have been exchanging letters for 11 weeks with HS2 Ltd on the unfairness of the consultation. In the final 12th week, with the prospect of more legal action and losing another high profile case, the Government has caved-in, and made an attempt to consult more fairly.
HS2 Ltd and DfT have now provided key new information to all consultees, and extended the consultation deadline (to 20 May), as HS2AA has maintained would be necessary.
The new material covers:
- A 14 page Supplementary Information Note that gives details about the Phase 1 EHS scheme, data on successes and failures, distances from the line and more about its rules
- Clarifications on specific terms, including correcting a crucial mistake in what was meant by the ‘realistic asking price’ that HS2AA had persistently pointed out since 8 February 2013
- A 51 page research report on blight by real estate services advisor CBRE that examined the extent of blight produced by the Phase 1 route announcement – which can be expected to be representative of Phase 2.
These are all points HS2AA raised, finally culminating in a letter to the Secretary of State after the BBC Newsnight programme (12 April 2013), making clear that the Government was repeating the same mistakes of the 2011 consultation by conducting it in an unfair manner.
Commenting on the announcement, Hilary Wharf, director, HS2AA said:
“This new information is crucial. It demonstrates beyond doubt that blight is far more extensive than the consultation documents implied. It also highlights that the reasoning for having a hardship based interim stop-gap scheme is a shabby ruse.
“The information is not always easy to interpret, and naturally the Government does not draw out its implications to help consultees, so we have analysed the CBRE research report and can show that blight equates to average losses of almost 20% for properties within one kilometre of the proposed route for HS2.
“This means that the idea that an EHS scheme is needed as a stop gap until statutory blight applies in 2016 (as is claimed) is wholly misleading. Statutory blight is mainly for properties that have to be demolished for line construction, which is a tiny few – less than 1% of those blighted. So EHS is simply irrelevant to the vast majority of people suffering blight. The whole basis of needing a hardship-based urgent reason to move is ridiculous – people can’t be expected to stay put or suffer huge losses for decades – HS2 Phase 2 won’t be running for over 20 years ie 2034.
“On top of all that Government have still not released all the blight information they have, which shows there is no real commitment to fairness.
“The EHS proposals are now revealed to be the shabby trick that they are – a means of addressing the worst hard luck cases that would otherwise attract such adverse media coverage that the Government would be forced to treat people fairly.
“The reality that the information reveals is that the Government is happy to watch their plans decimate people’s largest asset and savings, acting only if this produces “exceptional hardship”.
Notes to Editors:
HS2AA WINS COMPENSATION JUDICIAL REVIEW 15 March 2013
HS2AA WINS COMPENSATION JUDICIAL REVIEW
15 March 2013: Judge describes DfT’s actions as “very odd”, “muddled” and “doomed from the start”
- Mr Justice Ouseley today published his judgement on the two judicial review actions brought by HS2 Action Alliance, concerning compensation and environmental protection
- In a major victory for the more than 300,000 households blighted by HS2, the Court ruled that Justine Greening acted unlawfully in her 2012 decision on compensation, as it was based on a fundamentally flawed consultation process. This should lead to the Government re-consulting on the compensation scheme in a fair and lawful way.
- On the environmental case, the Judgment leaves the field clear for HS2AA to appeal, which it will be doing
Mr Justice Ouseley ruled that the decision making process followed by the Government to determine what compensation scheme should apply was “all in all so unfair as to be unlawful.”
The Court was scathing about the behaviour of the Department for Transport (DfT). The Judge said that the DfT, “bizarrely” opted for a compensation scheme which received just 21 responses in its favour from the public, out of 36,036 responses that commented on property blight.
The Judge also said that the reasons provided by the DfT for its choice of compensation scheme were “in part very odd” and its consultation strategy reflected “muddled thinking” and was “doomed from the start”. His Judgement decided that the public were not given the information they needed to respond and DfT were found to have moved the goalposts in how they selected their scheme.
The Judge was also highly critical of the DfT for losing HS2AA’s consultation response - which he said was a “sorry saga”. He described HS2AA’s 34 page response as “careful and substantial” and “detailed, well informed and fully reasoned” and he finds that “it was in reality just brushed aside” and never properly considered.
The Court sided with the Government in ruling that the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) Regulations did not apply to HS2, but rejected the DfT’s claims that it had in practice complied with the requirements of the SEA Regulations. But the field is clear for HS2AA to appeal this.
Commenting on the judgements, Hilary Wharf, director, HS2AA said:
“Today’s judgement is a huge victory for the hundreds of thousands of people whose lives are blighted by HS2. The Government’s shabby attempt to railroad through an inadequate compensation scheme whilst ignoring the views of ordinary people have been judged to be unlawful.
“The Government must now go back to the drawing board and rethink its approach to compensation. There are many better compensation alternatives which would help all those up and down the country trapped by HS2. A market-based Property Bond scheme reflects private sector best practice and has been supported by the Council of Mortgage Lenders, the British Bankers Association and the National Association of Estate Agents. Implementing such a scheme would give confidence to the property market whilst at the same time shift the remaining cost of property blight away from ordinary people.
“If the events of the last 12 months weren’t enough here is a legal decision which further confirms that the DfT are not fit for purpose.
“We must thank the thousands of people across the country often only able to afford modest donations which helped fund these legal cases. Without them we could never have won today. We will need to ask again for help to fund our important appeal.” she added.
Notes to Editors:
Judge forces HS2 Ltd to reveal new data on blight, that shows the proposed compensation is not “generous” as Government claim - 7 March 2013
7 March 2013 - Following an FOI case, HS2 Ltd has been forced to publish the maximum distance from the proposed HS2 line of successful applicants under the Exceptional Hardship Scheme (EHS).
The FOI response shows that:
1. The farthest distance of a successful applicant is 800m from the centre of the proposed line
2. Two percent of successful cases are between 601 and 800 metres from the proposed line, with 46 percent beyond 200 metres from the line
3. Distance is just one of the location factors assessed to decide if a property is adversely affected by HS2. But they are all only physical factors and do not include the property blight effects of HS2.
Hilary Wharf, Director HS2 Action Alliance said ”Now we know why HS2 Ltd fought so hard in the court to keep this information secret. It shows that the vast majority of cases of property blight are not covered by the Government’s latest proposals that restrict the purchase zone to 60m, or 120m in rural areas. This surely gives the lie to Government proposals being “generous” and covering blight or even serious blight? ”
Properties adversely affected
HS2AA is also concerned about how the EHS scheme operates. HS2 Ltd admit its location criterion – that assesses if a property will be substantially adversely affected by HS2 – looks only at physical factors and ignores whether a property is blighted (and suffers a loss in value). For this another criterion must also be met.
The judge commented that their location test may defeat the purpose of the EHS scheme, as blight is about market perceptions of the impact HS2 will have on a property and not just the actual physical adverse effects.
HS2AA believes there should be just one test that measures if a property is blighted and it should be based on evidence of loss in market value due to HS2. We also consider that the hardship rules are inappropriate for a scheme whose purpose is to compensate for blight, and should be dropped.
Only two percent of successful claims exceed 600 m from the line. It is clear that the panel briefing includes the HS1 maximum figure of 600m, but that it is not qualified – yet HS1 is much slower, less frequent, and less environmentally destructive than HS2. HS2AA believes this may be unduly influencing the panel’s decisions.
Note to Editors:
HS2AA RESPONDS TO ANNOUNCEMENT OF ROUTE FOR PHASE TWO OF HS2 - 28 January 2013
28th January 2013 – Responding to today’s much delayed announcement of the route for phase two of HS2, HS2 Action Alliance said the justification for HS2 is pure political spin: the facts simply don’t support it.
It won’t deliver jobs and growth. The idea that such projects bring jobs and growth was dismissed by 34 leading transport planners and economists (some of whom advised on HS2) only last week. And its jobs now, not in 2033, that the UK needs.
It’s not value for money. The assertion that the Y route delivers £2.50 for every £1 of subsidy has been totally discredited. Apply up to date figures, the latest assumptions and DfT’s own guidelines and the case collapses – producing less than 50p back for every £1 spent on subsidy.
But the costs are real. . Now that the Y route has been announced we expect thousands more tax payers to join the campaign against this eye-wateringly expensive project, which has no business case; will cause irreparable environmental damage, and for which there are better, cheaper and greener alternatives. It is a waste of £33bn.
It’s not needed for capacity: Everyone now knows the Virgin trains on the WCML are only half full even in peak. Only HS1 is less busy. Improving the existing line is a quicker and risk free solution that meets even their exaggerated projections of demand.
It blights homes. Many thousands of residents will find their lives ruined overnight by the blight on their properties and communities. They will find that successive Secretaries of State were insincere when promising ”generous compensation”. The reality is most will get nothing.
Hilary Wharf added ”Looking past the spin, HS2 is a bad deal for Britain. It doesn’t matter if you are in the north or south, it’s a bad deal from every perspective”.
All quotes attributable to Hilary Wharf, Director, HS2AA.
Notes to editors
A wake-up call for DfT - 22 January 2013
22 January 2013: Leading Transport economists have written an open letter to the Secretary of State commented on in the Financial Times. It makes two key points:
First, that road transport growth is tailing off, and this is something that the Department for Transport has never forecast
Second, that the link between improved transport infrastructure and economic growth and more jobs can no longer be relied upon for the UK, which, as Eddington pointed out in 2006, is already well connected.
Hilary Wharf, Director of HS2AA said “ We welcome this input by the leading transport economists in the country. Their message has a clear implication for High Speed 2 – it is a railway to meet growth that isn’t happening, to create jobs that simply won’t exist.
It’s clearly time to cancel HS2 and concentrate on real problems that need real solutions – not continue to waste money on a vanity project that has a wish list instead of a business case”.
Note to Editors:
HS2AA starts compensation judicial review against HS2 Wednesday 12th December
11th December 2012 - HS2 Action Alliance (HS2AA) is starting its second Judicial Review against HS2 on Wednesday 12th December concerning the compensation for those living near the proposed line.
Just two days before the Judicial Review starts the Department of Transport has refused an HS2AA Freedom of Information Act request for data on the cost and extent of property blight that the planned line will cause. This is despite the Department confirming that they have such information. HS2AA’s own research shows that the extent of property blight stretches far wider, and affects far more properties, than the 2,500 households likely to be eligible for compensation under the current proposals for the next 15-20 years.
HS2AA’s compensation Judicial Review centres on the fact that inadequate information was provided during the consultation, preventing the public from being able to give a meaningful response. The decision which followed the consultation was without proper justification, ignoring the Government’s own criteria and relied on new undisclosed material.
Also, the decision did not meet the expectations that had been created by Government, who had promised a fair deal for those suffering losses due to a project alleged to be in the national interest. Philip Hammond, the then secretary of State for Transport promised “Where a project that is in the national interest imposes significant financial loss on individuals, I believe it is right and proper that they should be compensated fairly for that loss”.
“172,000 properties are within one kilometre of the proposed line. 43,000 of these were contacted by the DfT about the latest compensation consultation but less than 2000 fit within the terms on offer, with everyone else left to apply under a long term hardship based scheme which on current figures is likely to result in barely another 600 qualifying.
With such huge blight going unaddressed we are not surprised that the DfT does not want the truth to be made public. If the Government cannot afford to compensate all those that are losing money because of the line they cannot afford HS2.”
Richard Stein from the Human Rights team at Leigh Day & Co who is representing HS2AA said:
"This is not a NIMBY argument. The consequence of the government’s compensation scheme is that many thousands of people living along the route will not be able to sell their homes for some fifteen years because their homes are blighted. If it is decided that it is the national interest to have HS2, which our clients don’t accept, at least they should not have to bear the burden for this national project.
"Proper arrangements must be put in place if HS2 is to go ahead to make it possible for these people to move if and when they wish in the same way that the rest of us can. The cost of a scheme which would make this possible must be included as a part of the cost of HS2. The process by which the government has adopted its proposed compensation scheme has been unfair and shambolic. We hope that the court will quash it and tell the government to think again.” he added
Jaqi Curruthers, a resident of South Heath, Buckinghamshire, commenting on the impact of HS2, said;
“We’ve lived here for 11 years and have three children in local schools. My partner has built a business in Essex over the last five years and we were hoping to move to be closer to his work. But as our house is 250 metres from the proposed line we are not entitled to any compensation and we are left with a big mortgage on a house that is effectively worthless.
“Philip Hammond said that no one should be out of pocket as a result of HS2. Well we are, and our life is on hold for the next 20 plus years. The Government is making it pretty clear that they simply don’t care about us, or any of the other 1000s of hard working families that have had their lives destroyed by HS2” she added.
Judicial Reviews Against HS2 Start Monday 3rd December
29th November 2012: Two judicial reviews against HS2 (the planned high speed link between London and Birmingham) being brought by HS2 Action Alliance (HS2AA) start on Tuesday, 4th December 2012 in the High Court with His Honour Mr Justice Ouseley presiding. Rulings are expected in January 2013.
Three other cases are being heard together with HS2AA’s, the proceedings starting on Monday 3rd December and expected to conclude Tuesday 11 December.
HS2AA’s judicial reviews challenge Government over their failings to comply with environmental legislation and to carry out a fair consultation on compensation prior to the go ahead being given for HS2 by the Department for Transport in January this year. 51m, Heathrow Hub and Aylesbury Golf Club are also taking cases to the High Court.
Commenting on the upcoming legal cases, Hilary Wharf , Director, HS2AA, says;
“The Government is trying to force through HS2 without following proper process. We have two strong cases coming to court next week that expose how the Government has been unlawfully taking short cuts in its decision making processes. Our cases concern environmental issues and the consultation on compensation."
“HS2AA has raised the money for the legal actions from many hundreds of individual donations from ordinary people who feel angered and frustrated by the Government's flawed decision to proceed. This has enabled HS2AA to employ two top legal teams. We are confident in our arguments and while Government has consistently ignored the compelling case against HS2, they can’t ignore the courts.” she added.
The grounds for the environmental legal challenge are the failure of the Department for Transport to comply with the requirements of the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) Regulations 2004 and the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010.
The SEA Regulations require a full strategic environmental assessment of any important infrastructure project and an assessment of all alternatives to be completed before any proposals are presented for public consultation. The Government failed to do this with HS2. Our previous press release on this covers it in more detail.
The Habitats Regulations protects species and habitats that are considered to be of European significance. The Government failed to conduct an ‘appropriate assessment’ as required by the Regulations.
The basis of the compensation Judicial Review centres on the fact that inadequate information was provided in the consultation, preventing the public from being able to give a meaningful response. The decision was without proper justification, ignored the Government’s own criteria and relied on new undisclosed material.
Further, the decision did not meet the expectations that had been created by Government, who had promised a fair deal for those suffering losses due to a project alleged to be in the national interest. If all the information had been provided, then the public could have responded to the questions and a different decision should have been reached.
This challenge affects thousands of people who live in communities impacted by HS2 who are badly impacted by property blight.
Note to Editors:
Public Rejects a New High Speed Rail Line as Best Method of Boosting the Economy - 19 November 2012
19th November 2012: The British public does not think that building a new high speed rail line, such as the planned HS2 project, is the best method of boosting the UK economy. In a new poll carried out by Ipsos MORI on behalf of HS2 Action Alliance just four per cent of the public selected building a new high speed line as the best infrastructure project to boost the UK economy.
A new high speed line trails far behind building more homes (40%); improving existing road infrastructure (20%), and improving existing rail infrastructure (14%). Improving and extending high speed broadband is considered the best way to boost the economy by eight per cent of the public. Increasing airport capacity is favoured by five percent of those surveyed, equal with those that replied ‘none of these’. Three per cent of respondents do not know which infrastructure projects would boost the economy.
Commenting on the survey’s findings, Hilary Wharf, said;
“We agree with what the Prime Minister said at the CBI today, the British economy needs boosting but costing a staggering £17 billion, Phase 1 of HS2 will support just 42,000 jobs and only 14,000 of these will be outside of the M25. So we are not surprised that the public agree with us that HS2 is not the answer to boosting the economy."
“David Cameron may not like the Government’s judgement being questioned but it was the threat of a Judicial Review that forced the reappraisal of the WCML franchise bid process and highlighted the systematic failings of the DfT. This is the same department that is blindly trying to push through HS2 against the wishes of the majority of voters. We look forward to the Government catching up with public opinion and shutting down this white elephant of a project and starting to address the capacity issues and economic regeneration with already identified cheaper and more effective approaches” she added.
The poll results are used in a new HS2AA advertising campaign in Total Politics and the New Statesman.
HS2 Action Alliance commissioned Ipsos MORI to include the question on a face to face CAPI (computer assisted personal interviewing) omnibus survey. Interviews were conducted with respondents in their homes.
1,442 face-to-face Interviews were carried out between 21st September and 8th October 2012, quotas were set and the resultant data was weighted to ensure a representative sample.
Respondents were asked
“The Government is trying to boost the economy and is considering major infrastructure investment. Which one of these, if any, do you think is the best way of boosting the economy?”
|Infrastructure Project||% Level of Support|
|Build more homes||40%|
|Improve existing road infrastructure||20%|
|Improve existing rail infrastructure||14%|
|Improve and extend high speed broadband||8%|
|Increase airport capacity||5%|
|Build a new high speed rail line||4%|
|None of these||5%|
Notes to editors
DfT’s ‘generous’ compensation scheme for HS2 traps 1000s in unsaleable homes - 25 October 2012
25th October 2012: The Department for Transport has today announced a consultation on a compensation scheme for home owners and businesses impacted by the planned HS2 London to Birmingham train line.
Commenting on the package, Hilary Wharf, Director, HS2 Action Alliance said;
“What’s on offer is derisory. It’s cynical and dishonest and gives the lie to repeated Government promises that this would be the most generous compensation scheme ever. They themselves say it’s comparable to HS1’s arrangements – regarded as unacceptable 20 years ago.”
“For those affected by blight (beyond 120m from the line) it effectively just continues the existing hardship scheme, under which just 60 households have qualified in the last two years.”
“If the Government can’t afford fair compensation - it can’t afford HS2.”
“This is neither a generous nor the right package for those impacted by the plans for HS2. Under these proposals many thousands of ordinary people will be left with houses they cannot sell or worth considerably less than they were before the plans for this eye watering expensive white elephant were announced. It offers no prospect of relief for the vast majority of those whose lives are ruined by HS2.”
“The consultation on compensation has been delayed three times since it was first scheduled for February 2011, with the lives of 1000s of ordinary people – from Camden to Staffordshire - damaged by this fatally flawed plan. As the last consultation was a shambles, losing 100’s of responses, and triggering five judicial reviews, we have no expectation that this will be any better.”
“As with every step of this fatally flawed project those impacted have been insulted and treated with contempt by an incompetent DfT and uncaring Government who seem hell bent on pushing though HS2 no matter what the personal, financial or environmental cost” she added.”
Notes to Editors:
Freedom of Information Request Uncovers HS2 Plans To Cut Classic Train Services To Save £7.7 Billion - 26 September 2012
26th September 2012: Many English towns and cities will see their train services cut if High Speed Two (HS2) is built according to an HS2 Ltd report uncovered by HS2 Action Alliance through a Freedom of Information request. The report provides details of cuts to classic train services that are needed to deliver £7.7 billion in savings which make up a critical part of HS2’s already flimsy business case.
HS2 will lead to significant deterioration in services for many towns and cities across the country, including Coventry, Stoke-on-Trent, Warrington, Stockport, Carlisle, Leicester, Nottingham, Wakefield and Berwick-on-Tweed.
A detailed breakdown of the planned service changes is shown in the tables here (pages 2 and 3)
Commenting on the loss of services, Hilary Wharf, director, HS2AA, said;
“We’ve always known that many of the assumptions that HS2 business case relied on were wildly optimistic. But this analysis goes a step further. By relying on huge cost savings created by reducing existing train services HS2 Ltd shows scant regard for the needs of the vast number of train passengers who will not be able to use or afford tickets for this outrageously expensive white elephant.”
The report detailing the service reduction is titled “Demand and Appraisal Report”, and was prepared by Mott MacDonald, Atkins and the MVA Consultancy and dated April 2012. The report includes the following information:
- Service pattern for HS2 Phase 1 (page 2.3, figure 2.1)
- Service pattern for HS2 Phase 2 (page 2.5, figure 2.2)
- Future service specification for existing routes when Phase 1 is complete (page A4, table A2)
- Future service specification for existing routes when Phase 2 is complete (page A5, table A3)
Note for editors
HS2AA responds to HS2 North West Paper on 51M alternative - 25 Sept 2012
25 September 2012: Commenting on the recent paper by HS2 North West, Hilary Wharf, director, HS2AA, said; “There is nothing in the 51m published documentation which justifies the claims made in HS2 North West’s paper. The 51m alternative is based (explicitly) on an illustrative service pattern, with a schematic, again shown as "illustrative", indicating what the pattern might look like for a standard off-peak hour.
“Furthermore, not all stations are shown in the schematic, as its purpose was to focus on ways in which ample additional capacity for Intercity services to and from London could be provided on the existing route. HS2 North West’s claim that this would, for example, require closure of the stations at Atherstone and Stone is complete nonsense."
“HS2 North West made no effort to clarify any of these points with 51m, preferring unsubstantiated and ill-founded attacks on 51m’s alternative rather than engage in serious debate.”
Notes to editors:
Rebuttal of William Barter’s Analysis of 51M’s alternative to HS2 - 24 Sept 2012
24 September 2012: "Writing on the Go-HS2 blog, William Barter is claiming that 51m’s alternative to HS2 would either cut local services between Birmingham and Coventry or destroy reliability on the route. This isn’t the case – the alternative maintains the current service pattern on the route, while providing more capacity with longer trains. Indeed, a November 2011 report by Network Rail for the Department of Transport confirmed the 51m illustrative timetable was sound and flagged no problems on the Coventry – Birmingham section. We would have been delighted to explain this to Go-HS2 – but of course they didn’t ask.” commented Hilary Wharf, director, HS2AA.
Notes to Editors
ASA Decision on Complaints against HS2AA Maps Advert - 19 September 2012
19th September 2012 – The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has today published its findings over a complaint against HS2AA’s maps advertisement. The ASA found for HS2AA on three issues and against it on three.
Commenting on the ASA decision, Hilary Wharf, director, HS2AA, said; “HS2AA has from the outset taken great care to make sure its statements and advertisements are clear, robust, and honest and it will continue to do so. We of course treat the ASA’s concerns seriously and have made the small changes to the maps that we believe address their issues.
“It is important to recognise that the ASA said they ‘acknowledged that the advertisement pointed readers to HS2AA’s website to view the basis of the maps’ . Plus, the ASA have not said that the main message of our advertisement – that there will be far more losers than winners with HS2 – was incorrect.”
Notes to editors
DfT’s new business case for HS2 hides more than it reveals - 24 August 2012
24 August 2012: DfT announce a new business case for HS2 that includes the Y route, but does not release it. They declare a better value for money set of figures by ignoring the obvious incontestable flaws – in the demand model; the discredited ‘simplifying’ value of time saving assumptions; and they remain oblivious to price competition between different rail routes. On top of that hidden in the latest modelling refinements are ‘efficiencies’ ie deeper cuts to the classic network. The recently announced £9bn (HLOS) rail improvements that remove some of HS2’s benefits are similarly invisible.
DfT hide the Y route
Route options for the Y legs to Manchester and Leeds have been considered and a ‘base option’ selected. But the route included in their new model won’t be released until the Autumn.
DfT hide the ‘real’ figures
As a result of ‘better modelling’, latest economic forecasts and changes in the GDP deflator, this fourth update improves the Benefit to Cost (BCR) ratio for HS2 back to its January position. This is still about half what it was over 2 years ago. A BCR of 1.4 for phase 1 and 1.7 for the Y. Add in the wider economic benefits and it increases to 1.7 and 2.5 (the top end of the January range)
DfT achieves this feat by ignoring the key flaws. If they were taken into account then the real case falls to below 1 – just 40p back for every £1 spent or 90p for the Y. And thats before even taking price into account, or recent rail improvements such as Midland Mainline electrification that capture some of HS2’s benefits.
Hilary Wharf, Director HS2AA said “This new business case simply ignores the inconvenient truths. They have cherry picked and included some improvements while simply airbrushing out the fundamental defects that have been identified. It’s not just us saying it but the Chair of the Public Accounts Committee called it ‘bonkers’ and quite ‘shocking’ that price competition between different rail routes is ignored.”
It’s dishonest not to change their base case and keep defects as sensitivity tests even when they have been bowled out – as they do on value of time savings and using an outdated demand model”.
“Yet again they are trying to ignore the elephant in the room, and it’s a white one”
Notes to Editors:
Opposition’s legal challenge to High Speed 2 clears first hurdle - 26 July 2012
26 July 2012: The Court today set the timetable on the case against High Speed 2 (HS2). The judge agreed that the five cases against HS2 will all be heard and sets the date for the hearings; he caps the opposition’s costs and he opens the door to further amendments to the claims.
The Government’s solicitors and the five parties challenging the lawfulness of Justine Greening's January 2012 announcement to proceed with the controversial high speed rail network (HS2) had their first meeting in court today. His Honour Mr Justice Ouseley presided over a "Case Management Conference" which confirmed how the five challenges to HS2 will be heard by the court. It was agreed that
- The claims will all be heard: The five different claims brought in respect of the Secretary of State's decision to proceed with HS2 will be heard in the High Court starting on 3 December 2012. It is anticipated that the court will sit for eight days to hear the cases.
- The cases will be heard together but organised separately: There will be an agreed running order and the Court will give its decision on each case after all five have been heard.
- Justine Greening required to explain consultation errors: Three of the four parties bringing cases (HS2AA, 51M, and Heathrow Hub) made clear to the court during today’s hearing that the news last week that their 2011 consultation responses had been omitted could now affect their grounds for challenge. The Secretary of State has been required to provide a full explanation for what happened. The judge agreed their cases could then be amended if required.
- Further hearing may be scheduled. It was agreed that there could be a further hearing in October dealing with the Government’s continuing refusal to release official data on passengers numbers on the West Coast Main Line.
- HS2AA’s costs will be capped: It was confirmed that HS2AA were successful in their application to have their costs capped, at £25,000 for each of their two cases.
Hilary Wharf, Director HS2AA said "We are very pleased with today’s decision. Not only does the Judge agree our cases should be, and will be heard, but the Secretary of State has been forced to account for her actions in seemingly ignoring many consultation responses.
The fact that three of the four claimants in this case have had their consultation responses mishandled is unbelievable. But it does explain why the Government seemed not to be listening, - because they weren’t. We were pleased that the judge will allow us to amend our case to reflect these developments.
The Government should stop hiding behind its lawyers and release the capacity data which is so fundamental to their case for HS2.
The hearing in December 2012 will provide communities from Euston to Staffordshire with the opportunity so many having been waiting so long for - to show the court why we think the decision to proceed with HS2 was unlawful.
I would like to thank our two legal teams who have worked so hard to get us to this point and the many thousands of supporters who contributed to the legal fund, without which HS2AA could not have afforded justice.”
Note to Editors
HS2 Ltd forced to admit defects in their consultation
22 July 2012: HS2AA along with 412 others have learnt from HS2 Ltd that their detailed response to the 2011 consultation got lost due to ‘processing errors’. Despite this HS2 Ltd say none of the omitted responses introduced any new matters hence the consultation summary and HS2 decision still stand.
Apparently lightening can strike twice. In both of the two HS2 consultations HS2AA submissions (a leading opposition umbrella group) were ‘overlooked’. In the 2011 consultation our submission ran to 150 pages, and raised matters that have still not been covered in the published materials.
Far from Government volunteering that there was a problem, this admission only comes after HS2AA alerted them to omissions on their website back in May, and raised why key matters had not been covered.
The latest report on the 413 responses also raises new questions about how responses were analysed, suggesting possible omissions or misrepresentations that are now being urgently followed up.
It is no doubt a coincidence that not only were the 413 omitted responses overwhelming against HS2, but as well as HS2AA they contained 2 other organisations so dissatisfied with the process that they are already mounting a Judicial Review covering the flaws in the consultation process.
Hilary Wharf, Director HS2AA, says “The Government’s Consultation was a sham. We already know that they had concealed crucial evidence and now we see that they ‘lost’ responses they didn’t like. To lose our first consultation response back in 2010 was unfortunate but to lose it again smacks at carelessness. As a leading opposition organisation this is quite shocking. We gave extensive evidence in our 150 page report which covered material that is still excluded from the Consultation summary (concerning outdated and overstated figures on benefits).”
“Natural justice demands Government now does one of two things - abandon HS2 as it lacks proper justification or re-run the full consultation with all the facts on the table, including the awkward ones they tried to hide.”
“We have also been talking to our lawyers, and it is hard to see how the HS2 consultation and the decision to proceed, can conceivably meet the standards set for a public consultation. These latest revelations on top of everything else, can only strengthen our case against Government. They should simply admit that the decision to proceed was wrong, rather than wait to be forced there by the courts”
New rail investment plans further undermine the business case for HS2 - 16 July 2012
16 July, 2012 – The Government’s announcement of £9bn rail investment (that includes £4bn on new schemes) in existing railways is sensible and welcomed. But the Government must also know that announcing these plans further undermines their own business case for High Speed 2 (HS2), as such improvements have to be factored into their ‘base case’ calculations. Today’s announcement comes on top of another by Alstom that says massive improvements in journey times to Scotland can be made, and this is without HS2.
Hilary Wharf, Director High Speed 2 Action Alliance (HS2AA) says “It is clearly a sensible approach to deliver incremental benefits to the existing network. We welcome it, albeit the pot is now smaller because of the huge £33bn cost of HS2. Government’s plan for 2014-19 will bring early real benefits to far more people than a vanity project like HS2, that helps few people and not for 15 to 20 years”.
“But the sting in the tail is that some of these plans will also worsen the case for HS2. The current business case already has a wholly unrealistic comparison ‘base case’ (excluding projects like Evergreen 3), but these latest improvements such as the electrification of Midland Mainline (that reduces journey times to Sheffield) must now be factored into DfT’s ‘base case’. It simply worsens the economic case for Phase 2, as even the Chief Engineer of HS2 Ltd, Andrew McNaughton recognised it would, as long ago as 2009.”
“The Government are not the only people working out how to improve the existing network either. Alstom say they can shave 50 minutes off getting to Edinburgh using Pendolinos and ERTMS on the East Coast Main Line – about the same as HS2 is forecast to achieve!. So it’s another example of getting the same journey time benefits, but without spending £33bn on HS2.”
Note for editors:
Debate in House of Lords on HS2 Business Case
11th July 2012 - Following the Public Accounts Committee's call for a thorough review of the business case for High Speed Rail Two (HS2) last week (some of the underpinning assumptions are untenable and they call for a rework of the figures) David Cameron's Step-father- in- Law, Viscount Astor, has called a dinner debate in the Lords at 7.30pm today, 11th July 2012.
The title of the question is:
Viscount Astor to ask Her Majesty’s Government’ what progress they have made in reviewing the economic viability, value for money and benefit-cost ratios of the High Speed 2 London to Birmingham, and London to Leeds and Manchester, lines.
Many organisations from The Taxpayer’s Alliance, Institute of Directors, Institute of Economic Affairs, New Economics Foundation, RAC Foundation, the Centre for Policy Studies, and Centre for Business and Economic Research to the Countryside Alliance and the Green Party have expressed serious doubts about the economic case.
Commenting on the debate, Hilary Wharf, director, HS2 Action Alliance said;
“The case for HS2 is bankrupt. The fact that the business case is visibly crumbling is more evident each day, and it is time for the Government accept the alternative of sweating our existing assets – enabling us to deliver more benefits to more people and more quickly.”
HS2AA explain the key flaws in the business case here.
Notes for editors:
Accounts Committee tells Government 'to revisit its assumptions on HS2'
6 July, 2012 – The Public Accounts Committee has reported on the sale of HS1 and identified serious issues on the debt, the forecasts used and other assumptions that also expose weaknesses in the case made for HS2. The Report tells the Department for Transport to revisit their assumptions on HS2 and develop a full understanding of benefits and costs of High Speed travel compared to other alternatives.
Hilary Wharf, Director High Speed 2 Action Alliance (HS2AA) says “The fact that over-optimistic and unrealised forecasts for passenger demand on HS1 has left us with a £4.8bn debt – likely to be over £10bn by 2070 – is bad enough, but that lessons have not been learned for HS2 and errors are being repeated with much bigger numbers and greater debt is wholly unacceptable”
“We welcome the recommendations of this Committee that calls for DfT to rework its business case using more realistic assumptions.”
“We see three clear messages for HS2, that Margaret Hodge, Chair of the Committee, identifies:
1. On forecasting: that the root of the problem for HS1 was the ‘inaccurate and wildly optimistic forecasts’ of passenger numbers, with just a third of the original forecast being achieved. And for HS2, DfT’s ‘unrealistic assumptions about ticket prices’ (that do not assume a premium price) are exaggerating the passenger demand forecasts. It therefore calls for a rework of the HS2 forecasts and Benefit Cost Ratio (BCR).
2. On time saving benefits: that some of DfT assumptions about benefits of faster travel are ‘simply untenable’, in particular the ‘simplifying’ assumption that all time spent on trains is assumed unproductive. This skews appraisals in favour of long distance transport. It calls for more work to be done to get it right.
3. On alternatives: that there is insufficient understanding of the regional impacts of alternative infrastructure investments, such as transport compared to high speed broadband. It calls for more evaluation of alternative options (including local rail) and urgently developing a full evaluation framework for major projects.
“We support the need to re-look at the pricing assumptions. Pricing clearly affects demand – if premium prices are assumed one might expect far fewer new passengers (that currently account for 24% of HS2 passengers) or less modal shift (11%). On top of that the £7bn saving assumed for existing services will be under threat if more people choose not to switch to HS2.”
“Yet again we have a report that says the DfT have got it wrong on how they value time saving benefits. People do work on trains. And this is distorting the decision making process in favour of long distance rather than regional rail improvements. They call for more research yet DfT for 2 years sat on the research they had commissioned that embarrassingly no doubt told them to halve the value being used, as our recent advertisement shows”.
“HS2 is a hugely expensive project and its clear the Public Accounts Committee believes DfT needs to go back to the drawing board. It’s very encouraging to see the Committee agree with so many of the points we have been making.”
Note for editors:
HS2AA Advertisement Highlights DfT Report on ‘Unsupportable’ Figures and BCR of Just 90p
Embargoed to 28 June 2012: A new advertisement (breaking in The Spectator this week) from High Speed Two Action Alliance (HS2AA) highlights the findings of two 2009 Department for Transport (DfT) reports that concluded that the ‘value of time’ figures that the DfT use to calculate the returns from High Speed Two (HS2) should be halved, and their figures are ‘unsupportable’. The advertisement can be downloaded here.
More than 40% of the projected monetised benefits of HS2 come from assuming businessmen don’t work on trains.
Hilary Wharf, Director HS2AA, says;
“It is at the very best irresponsible of Government to have hidden the report’s findings from consultees back in 2011 and the various committees - the Transport Select Committee, The Major Projects Authority and Public Accounts Committee – that have all investigated HS2.
“Allowing for the recommended halving of the value of time and using the DfT’s own figures HS2 now delivers a Benefit Cost Ratio of just 90p. This means HS2 loses money for every £1 of taxpayers’ money spent. But the Government just brushed this evidence under the carpet and said in their 2012 decision documents that the old Value of Time figures are ‘fit for purpose’ and ‘the best currently available’*.
“This is a £33bn transport project, the biggest for a generation, and yet these reports show its business case relies on outdated information and that crucial information was cynically hidden from view.”
Note for editors:
New HS2AA advertisement campaign highlights ‘law of diminishing returns’ for HS2 - 11 May 2012
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
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:
DfT reduced to making bogus comparisons rather than being up front about the latest figures - 12 April 2012
DfT reduced to making bogus comparisons rather than being up front about the latest figures
12 April 2012:
New business case figures are a whole lot worse
Latest DfT figures on value for money of HS2 show it’s now worse than even they previously said. The Benefit to Cost ratio (BCR) is just 1.2 for Phase 1 (DfT having discovered that they increased rail demand in Jan 2012 even more than they did previously (in Feb 2011). This wiped 0.2 off their previous BCR (of 1.4) and 0.3/0.4 for the full Y.
DfT make bogus comparisons
In an attempt to find some better figures, DfT now compare the extra costs/benefits of a high speed line (HS2) with a new conventional speed line. This completely ignores their own latest business case that shows HS2 is plainly bad value for money (at just £1.2 of benefits for every £1 cost) and that of the best alternative (ie 51m’s ) which is three times better value for money than HS2 (about £5 benefit for every £1 cost).
3-year old research published
DfT finally publish the March 2009/10 Oxera/Arup research that confirms that the rail model they used overestimates their answers for long distance rail travel – which affects every HS2 trip. The impact of this was included in their 2012 analysis and wipes 0.4 off their BCR (so it’s now really just 0.8 for phase 1). This means every £1 spent loses money (and gets back just 80 pence).
New analysis of consultation responses
In an attempt to massage reality DfT emphasise new figures on those supporting HS2. But they neglect to mention that the new analysis also says that 73% of supporters were standard campaign responses eg postcards rather than just 5% of all those who opposed HS2.
Hilary Wharf, Director HS2AA said “Every time the business case is reviewed it gets worse. Back in March 2010 there was a BCR of 2.4 and now it’s half that. The reduction for the full Y is even worse. Originally it was 4 and now its 1.3 to 1.5.”
“Even this latest admission ignores the fact that there is no justification for assuming even a doubling in rail demand or that the only question is when that point is reached”
“It is scandalous to take 3 years to publish important research that DfT themselves commissioned. We now know that even when they undertook their demand modelling for HS2 they knew it was going to exaggerate the demand. And to simply show the impact as a sensitivity test and not to change their base case is dishonest”
“When will the treasury insist that HS2 ltd are just throwing good money after bad and call a halt to this huge waste of money - £34bn.”
Notes to Editors:
HS2AA's response to Government's Decision on HS2 and HS2AA's response - 10 Jan 2012
Government's Decision on HS2 (10th January 2012 )and HS2AA's response
On 10th January 2012, Justine Greening, Secretary of State for Transport announced her decision to proceed with HS2.
HS2 Action Alliance (HS2AA) immediately issued the following statement in response to the decision by the government to approve the HS2, the world’s most expensive railway connecting London with Birmingham.
Bruce Weston, a Director of HS2AA said;
“Justine Greening has just committed each and every household in the UK to pay £1,700 for a railway that is not needed and not wanted. If she had based her decision on cold, hard facts she would have realised that there are far better, far cheaper and far more environmentally friendly ways of investing in our transport infrastructure. It should not have been difficult for her, as she admits that
Uprating the existing railway (‘the 51m alternative’) is three times better value for money than HS2
The crucial assumption about the value of time savings (which now accounts for about half the benefits) is wrong, but DfT still use it. Hardly a robust basis for spending £33bn!
The business case for HS2 is even worse than for last year’s consultation
Under 1,000 people a day would use the service to go to Heathrow, but they still go ahead with the Heathrow spur
- Just 3% of HS2 passengers would be won from air (previously 6%) but 24% of HS2 passengers would be entirely new journeys – hardly a green endorsement”
“It is extremely embarrassing for the government, which has failed to win public approval in the consultation process and failed to win support from the Transport Select Committee. By pushing ahead now, it is exposing the truth that HS2 is nothing more than a grotesque vanity project for an administration desperate to secure a legacy."
“At HS2AA, we believe in high speed rail but only if it can be proven to deliver countrywide benefits without saddling the country with debt that it cannot afford. HS2, by trimming a mere thirty minutes off the journey time between London and Birmingham, cannot be a priority when there are other routes that are more heavily overcrowded and more in need of investment, and the business case for HS2 is so bad.”
“Nor is HS2 a satisfactory economic stimulus for the UK economy. It will destroy four jobs for every one that it creates as other rail projects and vital public services are cut and it will do nothing to drive growth in the vast majority of the country”.
The principal reasons why HS2AA opposes HS2 are:
HS2AA Ltd announce decision to take Government to court over HS2 - 3 April 2012
HS2AA Ltd announce decision to take Government to court over High Speed 2 (HS2)
3 April 2012: We have had a brilliant response to our appeals for funds for taking legal action over the January 2012 decision on HS2. In a matter of a few weeks thousands of ordinary people in communities from London to Staffordshire and beyond have responded to the appeals, giving most generously, and raising the six figure sum that was needed.
HS2AA are now able to announce that we can proceed with two judicial reviews. One deals with environmental issues, and the other is about fighting for a fair deal for compensation. In both cases the Government failed to follow the proper processes required – if they had they would have reached a different conclusion.
We have two strong legal teams who are specialists in their fields and believe we have two powerful cases that Government must now answer. SJ Berwins with David Elvin, QC, of Landmark Chambers are handling our environmental case, and Leigh Day & Co with David Wolfe, QC, of Matrix Chambers our compensation case.
HS2AA Ltd are the claimant and working with a wide range of resident groups, societies, parish councils, action groups, and environmental groups.
What this has shown is that the opposition movement has got even stronger as a result of the 10 January decision to proceed with HS2. Ordinary people are frustrated that the Government are not listening and are joining together to fight this unacceptable waste of taxpayer’s money.
Notes to Editors:
Environmental groups challenge HS2 via EU - 26 March 2012
HS2AA fully support the letter of complaint to the EU commission over the UK’s decision on High Speed Rail, that the Berks, Bucks, and Oxon Wildlife Trust (BBOWT) are sending today. Hilary Wharf, Director of HS2AA says “The UK has a bad record in applying EU environmental legislation – and if the UK courts are not going to remedy this for High Speed 2 then we are confident that the EU Commission will”
The press release from Berks, Bucks, and Oxon Wildlife Trust (BBOWT) is as follows:
Wildlife Trust raises complaint with European Commission over UK Government’s decision on High Speed Rail
The Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust is today (Monday 26 March) taking the unprecedented action of writing to the European Commission claiming that the UK Government chose the High Speed Rail (HS2) route between London and Birmingham without taking proper account of its environmental impacts.
The Government did not carry out a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) which would have required a thorough investigation of the environmental impacts of the HS2 route and viable alternatives. As a result, the process used by HS2 Ltd ignored vital information about the potential impacts of HS2 on nature reserves, protected species and important wildlife sites, claims the Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust.
Philippa Lyons, Chief Executive of the Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust explains why the Trust is taking this action: “The Government believed it wasn’t necessary to carry out an SEA. As a result they didn’t know about the nature reserves the route cuts through, or the precious woodland habitats of Bernwood Forest in Buckinghamshire, where the very rare Bechstein’s bats were discovered by a local bat group.
“The Wildlife Trust has never before been driven to complain to the European Commission, but the refusal of this Government to take proper account of wildlife issues when deciding on HS2 is beyond belief. Even now it is refusing to take our advice and carry out proper environmental assessments for Phase 2 of the HS2 route.”
The Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust is collaborating with four other Wildlife Trusts affected by Phase 1 of HS2, other conservation groups and the HS2 Action Alliance, which recently sent a letter to the Government calling for a Judicial Review of its decision to go ahead without doing an SEA.
“The European Commission will not investigate our complaint while the UK courts are examining the same issues,” says Philippa Lyons. “But by submitting the complaint now, these important issues are on the Commissioner’s desk ready for immediate investigation. If the UK courts either refuse to examine them or decide they do not contravene UK legislation, the EC will be able to investigate them instead.”
The Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust highlighted the impacts of the HS2 proposed route on wildlife in its response to the Government’s consultation during 2011. Thousands of responses raised similar concerns, with the vast majority calling on the Government to think again about HS2, but these were ignored by the Secretary of State when the route was announced in January this year.
Wendy Tobitt, Media & Campaigns Manager, Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust
Tel: 01865 788318 and 07748 641452
Notes to Editors
DfT's spurious statistics
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, Aspect Consulting, Tel: 07803 178 037
The start of HS2AA's legal challenge
HS2AA GIVES TRANSPORT MINISTER NOTICE THAT IT INTENDS TO CHALLENGE HS2 PLANS THROUGH JUDICIAL REVIEW AND NOTIFIES EUROPEAN COMMISSION ON FAILURE TO COMPLY WITH ENVIRONMENTAL REQUIREMENTS
13 February 2012: HS2 Action Alliance (HS2AA) has served a formal letter on Justine Greening, Secretary of State for Transport, asking her to abandon her decision to proceed with HS2. The letter also gives her notice that HS2AA may challenge her decision through judicial review.
The grounds for the legal challenge are the failure of the Department for Transport to comply with the legally binding requirements of the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) Regulations 2004 and the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010.
The SEA Regulations require a full strategic environmental assessment of any important infrastructure project and an assessment of all alternatives to be completed before any proposals are presented for public consultation. The Government has failed to do this with HS2.
A separate letter of complaint regarding the UK Government’s non-compliance with the SEA Directive is also being sent today to the European Commission, inviting the Commission to investigate the actions of the UK Government on this matter.
HS2AA’s letter stating its grounds for why it intends to seek judicial review is supported by the following organisations:
Four Wildlife Trusts along the route, Chilterns Conservation Board, Conserve the Chilterns and Countryside, besides the more than 70 Action Groups and Resident Associations affiliated to HS2AA
Commenting on the letter, Thomas Crane, Director, HS2AA said:
“HS2 is an environmental disaster for our country. It will irreversibly damage many landscapes, ancient woodlands and wildlife habitats which simply cannot be replaced. It will also do nothing to reduce carbon emissions.
“If the Government is determined to push such a scheme, the economic justification should be overwhelming, but this simply isn’t the case. Figures buried by the Department of Transport on January 10th, the announcement day, indicated that the already shaky business case put forward to justify HS2 is now virtually nonexistent.
“The DfT and HS2 Ltd has ridden rough shod over public opinion and many expert voices to ignore all viable alternatives in its desperation to promote HS2. We are still hopeful that Justine Greening will see sense and halt a project which offers such limited benefit for so much environmental damage.
“If the government had done the assessment properly they simply would not have reached the conclusion they did” he added.
For more information please contact: Richard Houghton, Aspect Consulting, Tel: 07803 178 037
For spokesperson for Wildlife Trusts, please contact: Matt Jackson, Head of Conservation Policy, Berks Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust, Tel: 01865 775476 Ext 205
New Year’s Resolutions for Greening
29th December 2012 - As Justine Greening prepares to give the go-ahead to High Speed Rail Two (HS2) in January (despite widespread public opposition), members of Action Groups Against High Speed Two (AGAHST) along with railway expert Chris Stokes, have been giving some thought to what her New Year’s resolutions should be for the UK’s rail network.
AGAHST suggests that the Minister makes the following resolutions as well as abandoning the white elephant that is HS2:
1. Northern Hub - confirm investment in the Northern Hub, (£500m) and Ledburn junction (£243m). Ledburn investment would enable commuter capacity to Milton Keynes and Northampton to be doubled in circa 5 years time relieving overcrowding now. HS2 will not deliver any relief until 2026.
2. Electrification - of the Midland Main Line; Cardiff to Swansea; Reading to Birmingham and Bristol to York
3. Extra rolling stock - in two to three years to relieve existing overcrowding for commuter services in Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham, Bristol and Paddington
4. Timetable - develop a national interval timetable pattern, with greatly improved connections across the network. Switzerland already has this.
5. Speeds - improve speeds on key regional routes. Liverpool to Manchester line is slower than 100 years ago!
6. Capacity - develop proposals to increase capacity on the really overcrowded routes: Great Eastern; Great Western; South Western and Brighton Main lines. West Coast Main Line is not the priority, as shown by our peak counts
7. Transport strategy - prepare an overall transport strategy and rail / air / road connectivity to include a re-examination of a high speed Heathrow hub development
Commenting on the resolutions, Jerry Marshall, Chairman, AGAHST, says;
“While HS2 might looks good from round the cabinet table, our research shows the public don’t see it as a priority and there are a number of much more affordable developments of the rail network which will dramatically improve the services for commuters and leisure travellers. Let’s hope
Greening uses the Christmas break productively and realises that HS2 is not the answer to any question, let alone rail capacity and regional economic development.”
Nearly two thirds of population opposed to money being spent on HS2
20th December 2011- A YouGov public opinion poll has found that nearly two thirds of the public oppose money being spent on the planned £32 billion high speed rail link between London and Birmingham (HS2).
RESEARCH CONTRADICTS DfT & HS2 LTD CLAIMS THAT WEST COAST MAINLINE IS ‘FULL’
5TH December 2012 – Research carried out by HS2 Action Alliance, and verified by independent research firm CRT Viewpoint, has discovered that long distance trains leaving Euston during the week day, evening peak period (16.30 to 18.59) on the West Coast Main Line (WCML) had an average occupancy rate or load factor of just 56 percent.
This directly contradicts claims by the DfT and HS2 Ltd that the lack of capacity on the WCML is the central reason why the £32b HS2 rail line needs to be built.
As Philip Hammond (past Minister for Transport) said to the Transport Select Committee earlier this year;
“If the compelling case for additional capacity... was not there then a large part of the case for high speed rail would be undermined.”
A DfT spokesperson confirmed this weekend their view that;
“HS2 could provide a solution to a long term capacity problem that is very real now and only expected to get worse for at least the next 15 years. the capacity problem is very real now…”
The occupancy of the trains during peak period trains to Manchester was even lower than other destinations at an average of 45%. This further undermines the business case for second phase of HS2, which is planned to run from Birmingham to Manchester and Leeds.
The loadings on trains making an extra stop at Milton Keynes were significantly higher with an average loading of 107 percent. But commuters from Milton Keynes to London will have to wait until 2026 – another 15 years for the additional capacity to be provided by HS2, despite cheaper, faster and more effective solutions being available almost immediately.
The first trains after the peak ends (19.00 to 19.30) had higher loadings (67%). This demonstrates the effect on demand of the much cheaper fares that kick in when the off peak travel begins.
Commenting on the research findings, Hilary Wharf, director, HS2 Action Alliance, said;
“With extra capacity being at the very centre of the DfT and HS2 Ltd’s argument for the need for the £32 billion project, this research shows that the business case for HS2 is fatally flawed. Two extra carriages are planned for WCML services in 2012 which will reduce crowding further.
“We had to run our own research because the DfT refused a Freedom of Information request for the load figures. Having seen how low they really are in the peak it is clear why they tried to hide them.”
The methodology counted passengers onto each train, on Thursday 17 and Tuesday 22 Nov 2011. A third count took place on Thursday 24th November 2011.
Over the two days 66 trains were counted. Although the sample is small, CRT Viewpoint say they believe this gives a fair reflection of mid-week loading, away from a holiday period, on two normal working days.
The loading figures are for both first and standard class carriages as counters were unable to board the trains and separate the two classes. All trains were formed of nine car Pendolino’s except the Holyhead and Wrexham services which were formed of 10 car Voyager trains
CRT conducted three audit counts on the three platform access ramps on Tuesday 22nd November 2011 in order to verify the accuracy of the counts being taken
The methodology used is no different from how many of the train companies do their counts in order to get loading figures.
IoD members unsure about HS2
18th November 2011
IoD members unsure about HS2
- Improvements to existing intercity and commuter lines more important than HS2, say directors
- Directors concerned about value for money
- Larger proportions think that airport capacity increases would improve their productivity
A new comprehensive survey of over 1,200 IoD members reveals that HS2 is a long way down the list of business transport priorities, with a significant number thinking that a new high speed line would represent poor value for money. The survey, which asked directors for their priorities for new investment as well as their views on the current state of Britain’s transport infrastructure, also reveals that business leaders think that improvements to existing roads are more important than new roads.
Simon Walker, Director General of the Institute of Directors, said:
“Good transport infrastructure is crucial to IoD members up and down the country. Businesses are not happy with the current state of the UK’s infrastructure, but our survey of IoD members shows that directors want to see improvements to existing roads and rail services above all. In straightened times, choices will have to be made between some improvements to existing rail lines and a new high speed line, and we want to see the Government take the business view seriously.”
“IoD members are enthusiastic about airport capacity expansion, but the planning system has held back development. We need to see bold and financially sound decisions made about upgrading our congested networks.”
The key findings of the survey include:
- 86% think that investment in congested urban roads is important to their business, while 83% think that improvements to existing motorways are important. By comparison, 49% think that new motorways, and 37% new local roads, are important.
- 79% think that investment in improving existing intercity services is important to their business, compared with 54% who think that high speed rail investment is important.
- 38% think that the public spending required to build HS2 would represent poor value for money, compared with 30% who think it would represent good value.
- 48% think that increases in airport capacity outside London and the South East would have a positive impact on the productivity of their business; 40% think the same for increased airport capacity in London and the South East, and just 23% agree that a new high speed rail line between Birmingham and London would improve their productivity.
- IoD members are not happy with the current state of the UK’s transport infrastructure. 82% think that UK roads are too congested, while 61% think that intercity rail fares are poor value for money.
- 76% think that the planning system has had a negative impact on the speed and ease of completing infrastructure projects over the past decade.
- The IoD conducted a Policy Voice poll of 1,245 members in August 2011. Directors were asked for their views on the existing state of the UK’s transport infrastructure and their priorities for new investment.
The full survey report can be found at: http://www.iod.com/mainwebsite/resources/document/member_transport_survey_2011.pdf
The original release can be found here: http://press.iod.com/2011/11/18/iod-members-unsure-about-hs2/
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 www.betterthanhs2.org.
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.”
For more information please contact:
0207 307 1990 or 07803 178 037
0207 307 1998 or 0779 294 0085
HS2 not necessary to meet future rail capacity demand
Overcrowding - HS2 offers no solution to current overcrowding for journeys to Birmingham for 15 years and Leeds and Manchester for 22 years
Incremental - Investments in alternatives are incremental so there is no wasted investment if the significant demand growth forecasted by HS2 does not materialise
Quickly – Improvements can be introduced much more quickly than HS2 which offers no respite to train passengers until 2026 at the earliest
Low risk – Unlike HS2 the alternative approaches are low risk and can be commercially justified. WCML capacity can be trebled with targeted investment of the order of £2bn
Resilience - Upgrades to existing infrastructure will provide a resilience allowing services to continue if a locomotive breaks down, unlike HS2 that is relying on as yet unavailable technology and a single track
18 Trains/hr – HS2 will not be able to deliver the additional capacity claimed as this relies on running 18 trains per hour which can not technically be done. HS2 Ltd continues to refuse to release its evidence to justify the claim that 18 trains per hour is possible.
Disruption – HS2 will create eight years of significant disruption as Euston is rebuilt. Significant passenger dispersal problems will be created in London as Kings Cross passengers are diverted from Euston. The alternative requires none of this work to be carried out.
STOP HS2 DELIVER PETITION TO NUMBER TEN TODAY
The Stop HS2 campaign will deliver its petition to Downing Street today, ahead of a Parliamentary debate on the proposed high speed rail network on Thursday. This comes just a month after campaigners were told their petition would not count in terms of getting a Parliamentary debate and they would have to start from scratch. The new Stop HS2 petition, which calls for at least a public inquiry if HS2 is not to be scrapped, is currently 13th out of almost 8,000 (7905 at time of writing) petitions on the Government e-petitions website.
Ahead of the delivery of the petition, Green Party leader Caroline Lucas MP said: "The supposed "greenest Government ever" showed its true blue colours at last week's Conservative party conference. Let's be clear: HS2 as it stands has little to do with a "green" transport future. It will likely do nothing to reduce transport emissions, nothing to improve local and regional commuter networks on which millions depend, and nothing to reduce the capital's economic dominance over the regions. It's for those reasons and many more that Greens oppose HS2."
Conservative MP Andrea Leadsom, who has been at the forefront of the parliamentary campaign against HS2 said: “This will cost every family in Britain £1000 each, so it’s not good enough to say it’s going to solve a problem, so let’s do it anyway. If money were no object, there’s lots and lots of things like that we might do, but money is an object at a time when this when every penny has to count.”
Former Labour Paymaster General and Coventry MP Geoffrey Robinson said:
“ The existing rail network can be expanded much more cost effectively by investing in new trains, electrification and extended platforms at a fraction of the cost of building HS2.”
Stop HS2 Campaign Coordinator Joe Rukin said:
“The Financial Times, The Economist and The Sunday Telegraph have joined us and several other institutions in questioning the need for HS2, the cost, the lack of benefits and the fact that there are many other more deserving transport projects which should be prioritised first. What people still don’t realise is the fact there is absolutely no environmental case for doing this. People imagine that getting more people onto a high speed train would be good for the environment, but this is simply not the case. Besides the obvious destruction of green spaces and habitats, due to the energy needed to get to the speeds we are talking about. HS2 is also clearly intended to promote air travel. Besides the fact that it will connect airports, any internal flights which might get cancelled will be replaced with new routes, with bigger planes going greater distances.”
“The way that HS2 has progressed so far, without actually looking at what is best for the transport network in a strategic manner is just insane. The public consultation was an absolute farce, with incomplete plans and admissions that many aspects of the work had not been done. At a recent Transport Select Committee meeting, HS2 Chief Engineer Andrew McNaughton still hadn’t got answers to questions we’ve been asking him for over a year now, with the favourite response from the panel being ‘we haven’t done the work on that aspect’. HS2 Ltd still claim they don’t know basic things like what the land take will be, no-one who is directly affected has ever received any direct contact from HS2 Ltd and how they claim they know it will cost £33bn to get to Leeds and Manchester when they haven’t even produced a route yet is beyond me.”
Notes to Editors:
- For more information contact Joe Rukin on 07811 371880 or Penny Gaines on 07765 780553.
- The Stop HS2 petition will be handed in to Downing Street at 1.30 (arriving at the gates at 1.20) on Tuesday 11th October.
- The HS2 debate in the main chamber of Parliament is expected to start some time after 2pm on Thursday 13th October. Stop HS2 campaigners will be present at Old Palace Yard (opposite the Palace of Westminster) from 10.30.
- The Rail Summit takes place at 22 Berners Street, London, W1T 3DD on 12th & 13th October ( www.ico.org ). The debate “HS2 – is it in the country’s best interests?” will take place at 3.25 on Thursday 13th October. Details at http://www.railsummit.co.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0010/284455/C108-Rail-Summit-E05.pdf
People can sign the petition against HS2 via the Stop HS2 website; http://stophs2.org/news/378-petition-government-stop-hs2/ or directly at http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/353.
High Speed 2 Action Alliance to launch alternative manifesto at Tory Conference
High Speed 2 Action Alliance to launch alternative manifesto at Tory Conference
- Blue print will save £31bn, deliver faster improvements to UK rail network
- Government urged to scrap plan that will cost £800m planning in this parliament alone
30th September 2011 – High Speed 2 Action Alliance (HS2AA), the campaign against the Government’s plan for a new high speed rail line, will launch its alternative vision for Britain’s future rail network at a fringe meeting at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester this Sunday.
The document, A Better Railway for Britain, which has been prepared by leading railway experts and economists, will highlight ways to improve the nation’s railway infrastructure using existing track at a fraction of the cost of the government’s planned £33bn project, HS2.
The manifesto will also highlight inherent flaws in the current HS2 plan, which will exacerbate the country’s north-south divide, disrupt rail services for a large number of commuters and fail to deliver any of its green promises.
The launch of the manifesto on Sunday will be attended by politicians from the conservative party. Speakers include Chris Stokes, the document’s co-author and former director of the Strategic Rail Authority, and Jerry Marshall, chairman of AGAHST, the Action Groups Against High Speed Two, who will chair the meeting.
HS2AA plan to have a high profile at the conference’s Manchester venue, where at 11am on Sunday they will also unveil an advertisement campaign highlighting the fact that the planning budget for HS2 in this parliament alone - £800m – would be enough to pay the salaries of 19,000 police officers.
Government's defence of HS2 is in tatters, says HS2 Action Alliance
Their response to the select committee fails to give credible answers
9 September 2011– Analysis by HS2AA of the written responses by the Department for Transport’s (DfT) and High Speed Two Ltd (HS2) to questions from the Transport Select Committee shows how in 40 pages they fail to patch the holes in their case.
Bruce Weston, reviewing these submissions said “It’s clear that the Government has no real answers to the many questions that the Select Committee has raised on the heart of their case. Rather than continuing to offer misrepresentations and invalid justifications, it is time for the Government to reconsider their commitment to HS2”.
High Speed Rail white Elephant goes off the rails
21 June - Commenting on today’s Oxera report on the case for high speed rail, Jerry Marshall, Chairman of Action Groups Against High Speed Two said:
"This report shows that Philip Hammond's high speed rail project is going off the rails. It shows that the Government's case is shot throgh with uncertainty and that the estimates of the benefits are based on a full network to Manchester and Leeds, yet the Department have only done detailed work on the first stage from London to Birmingham. The DfT's consultation is fundamentally flawed and should be halted until this detailed work has been carried out.
Labour opposition to wasteful high speed rail plans
14 June 2011 - A new YouGov poll shows that the Government’s plan for a second high speed rail line is viewed as a bad use of public money by most Labour voters in the Midlands and Wales.
48% of respondents in the region who said they would vote Labour if there was an election tomorrow believe the new rail line, which is set to run initially from London to Birmingham and then to Manchester and Leeds, is too costly and want to see funds spent on other public services. Only 35% agreed High Speed Rail would eventually generate more money than it cost and help to break down the North-South divide.