I am just reading through the ‘First Interim Evaluation of the Impact of HS1 Final Report’ which was published last week.
The summary says ‘monetised benefits do not fully cover scheme costs over the appraisal period (60 years) with a PVC (Present Value Costs) of £12.6bn and PVB (Present Value Benefits) of £6.7 bn generating a NPV (Net Present Value) of minus £5.9bn.’
So, the only evaluation of the actual benefits of HS1 (as opposed to trying to estimate them in advance) shows a pretty poor return on the public investment.
Now, I fully accept that it is very difficult to estimate the costs and benefits of large infrastructure projects in advance of the investment, but I hope that this evaluation is taken into account when the costs and benefits of HS2 is being talked about and estimated. With this new information, HS2 needs to reappraised pretty quickly.
Additionally, we need to remember what I have always said – these large infrastructure projects and investments are largely political; and we need to accept this and not try to dodge the political issues and decisions with appraisals based on assumptions which can be fudged to get the answer which you want.
However, this is not to say that we can ignore what evidence we do have, such as High Speed Train networks tend to benefit the capital city more than the provincial cities which they connect the capital to. In other words, I still believe that it will be money better spent to have a High Speed Train Network linking our northern cities to each other instead of to London.