Network Rail undermines the case for high speed line

I have written about Network Rail’s high speed announcement last week for my column in Rail magazine, but as a taster, just consider this. When the researchers analysed the case for a high speed line to Birmingham, or Birmingham and Manchester, they found that it had a negative benefit cost ratio. In other words, it is not worth building unless it goes all the way to Scotland.

I am pretty sceptical about the benefit cost analysis in any case. It is a pretty theoretical notion of assessing societal benefits, and really offers only a thin intellectual underpinning for decisions on megaprojects. Personally, I like how the Victorians did it – if they thought it was worthwhile, and they could get enough investors, they went ahead. That’s how we got a railway network which, in fact, was far too extensive for their needs.

Read the full article in Rail when it comes out at next week, but I suggest that far from boosting the case for the line, Network Rail seems to have undermined it.

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