Report calls for a national rail/high-speed rail plan

28 November, 2018

This month the High-speed rail international benchmarking study dated November 2016 was released. The findings come from an independent PwC investigation commissioned by former chancellor George Osborne in 2014. The review was finished in 2016 but its publication was delayed by two years.

The report spells out clearly that long term plans are what’s needed for efficient cost delivery of projects like HS2:

“There is a significant opportunity for the Government to unlock potential cost savings for future infrastructure projects through the development of a national infrastructure plan, and a specific high speed rail strategy”.

“[T]o unlock greater efficiencies for future infrastructure projects, Government must consider its ability to commit to a long term infrastructure and high speed rail plan. … This would enable the UK supply chain to consider longer-term investments in people and technology, partnerships and potentially encourage a greater degree of vertical integration across design and construction, as has been observed with a number of European high speed rail suppliers.”

And so the report recommends that:

“UK Government should create a more integrated strategic national infrastructure plan including high speed and conventional rail with committed spend targets that would ideally command parliamentary support across parliamentary cycles.”

We couldn’t agree more, and that’s why we prepared Beyond HS2 earlier this year.

The benchmarking study concluded that projected costs/km for HS2 Phase 2 were higher than international comparators and set out some helpful areas where savings could be made. These include strengthening and enlarging construction sector businesses and increasing their investment in capital equipment. These are matters of national industrial strategy rather than procurement. It is disappointing that this report’s release was unnecessarily delayed, making it harder to ensure the potential budget savings it identified are in fact realised.

HS2: a magic money tree?

27 September, 2018

Unthinking populism has led some to put forward scrapping HS2 as a solution to worrying projections of economic losses from Brexit. ‘Here’s £50bn we could save and spend instead on (say) the NHS’.

But scrapping HS2 does not create a magic money tree.

Rather, it would be an act of extreme short-termism, signalling no belief in the future of the UK.

For a start, aborting the capital spend on HS2 means losing the stream of economic benefits it generates at roundly the rate of £2 benefit of every £1 outlay. Read on »

Simon Jenkins on HS2

11 August, 2018

This time (The Guardian, 10th August) Simon Jenkins attacks not only HS2 but also the wider rail network: “Like it or not, roads are the lifeline of the economy”. Yes, but we can’t sustainably expand the road network (Jenkins wants motorway congestion eased); expanding the rail network is the better approach.

Simon Jenkins knows this really, and as long it isn’t high-speed, he favours expenditure on rail, for the “chronically underfunded commuter network”. Bizarrely he calls for HS2 trains to operate over Read on »

Greengauge 21 on the first National Infrastructure Assessment

12 July, 2018

The first National Infrastructure Assessment, published yesterday by the NIC, provides the rare perspective of a comprehensive assessment of the nation’s needs over the next 25+ years.

Having considered all the exciting developments ahead in areas such as autonomous vehicles, the Assessment re-states the significant role that rail plays in connecting city centres and in providing the transit systems that enable larger cities to grow and prosper. It foresees Read on »

Celebrating top performing train operators across the UK and Europe

14 June, 2018

The development of high speed rail brings with it the possibility of driving excellence in the rail travel experience for the many. Its appeal is growing, as travellers consider not simply how fast they can get to where they want to go, but also the experience of getting there. Commissioned by online train booking service Loco2; the Great Train Comparison Report is a Europe-wide report that sets out the diverse rail services on offer and how rail travellers can experience the very best of European rail travel, depending on their specific (and varied) needs.

Loco2 selected 11 target audiences and researched how well modern European train operators Read on »