Written evidence from Mr Geoffrey Toull
This submission focuses on four specific sets of
issues that impinge on the Transport Secretary's HS2 scheme being
planned by HS2 Ltd, draws conclusions, and makes recommendations.
The issues are:
infrastructure project cost and time realities and the need to
factor them into the HS2 figures;
need to set HS2 in its operational timeframe;
inevitability of the adverse impact on HS2 passenger-demand forecasts
of electric vehicles and telepresencing (with a brief on the latter);
of HS2 analyses and their consequences.
One background thread running through the submission
is the background of ministerial assertions about the scheme and
about those who oppose it. The assertions demonstrate a particular,
indeed peculiar, characteristic of project authorities, that of
having been 'captured', being in thrall, to their projects. Thus
the submission ends in an After-note entitled "the inherent
risk in the exercise of authority".
Given that throughout the past 25 and more years
project following project has over-run the budget and timetable
set down at authorisation, the lessons learned should have been
applied to HS2. It appears that this has not been so: DfT has
no such material. The submission argues that this must be rectified,
the lessons be applied to HS2, and the Chancellor double and more
the money to be set aside for the scheme were it to go ahead.
Passenger-demand forecasts have been on the basis
of projecting forward year on year the growth experienced in recent
years. The background scenario for the forecasts was one of no
change, no advance, in ways of conducting business, or of society's
changing milieu, in the operational timeframe of HS2. It was not
in the HS2 brief to examine the issues of electric vehicles or
telepresencing, yet they will have a huge impact on HS2 passenger
numbers. These issues are given the light of day in the submission,
issues that must be addressed with serious intent.
The above demonstrates particular shortcoming in
analyses conducted by HS2 and its consultants, and highlights,
briefly, other inadequacies. They must be rectified, forecasts
must brought into line with the business and societal realities
of the HS2 in-service time-frame, and the as yet unknown-unknowns
of the scheme tackled with vigour.
It is recognised that HS2 scrutiny must be a considerable
burden on the shoulders of individual members of the Transport
Select Committee. It is recognised, too, that the scheme covers
a wide range of specialised disciplines, some falling naturally
with the remit of other Select Committees, the members of which
might possibly be willing to share that burden. The submission
suggests therefore that this be explored, with your own Committee
acting as Office of Prime Responsibility and co-ordinator.
It is felt wholeheartedly that a scheme of the cost,
complexities, and risks inherent in the HS2 scheme are of such
magnitude that unstinting help, submissions included, should be
put at the service of your Committee. And I therefore commend
this submission to you and your Committee colleagues.
When challenged by members of the public about aspects
of HMG's High-speed Two (HS2) railway scheme, the responses by
particular government ministers throughout these last 12 months
have ranged from the deliberately shallow, the dismissive, at
best, obfuscatory at times, the banal, and to calculated and carefully
calibrated innuendo. Examples abound, a very few being set out
in Annex A to this submission. Just one pair of examples is included
hereunder in order to make three interrelated points. The examples.
The Transport Secretary (SoS), belabouring people
living in the Vale of Aylesbury and opposed to the government's
high speed rail plans]: "I hear lots of arguments
about whether the country can afford it, value for money and the
business case". "But 95% of these arguments come from
people who just happen to live in Wendover or Aylesbury or Amersham.
I don't blame them for fighting their corner but they should be
honest that their objection to this project is that it comes through
their backyard. It is not a principled objection". Moreover,
the SoS had asserted previously that objectors from Wendover and
areas nearby were merely "nimbys", nothing more, and
thus any factual evidence as to the un-soundness of the HS2 scheme
presented by them could be dismissed out of hand by ministers].
In essence the SoS has said: "95% of those that
I hear, who challenge affordability, value for money, and soundness
of the business case are, because of their places of residence,
unprincipled no matter how strong their evidence"--words
chosen by him, as ever, with care and forethought. Put another
way the SoS had said in essence: "I have counted only five
people out of every 100 in the area who have sufficient integrity
and moral compass to respond objectivelythe other 95 out
of every 100 lack integrity, so it is legitimate for me (as SoS)
to ignore any evidence that they might adduce".
The first of the three interrelated points is that
the above examples are just two of the many that make clear the
absolute determination of the SoS to ignore, to dismiss out of
hand, all evidence that undermines his case for the HS2 scheme.
Note that although the SoS alluded to "affordability, value
for money, and soundness of the business case" he failed,
as ever, to address those issues. There must be a reason. The
second point is that, when presented with "negative"
evidence by members of the public, the SoS resorts, time after
time, to studied self-serving and sweeping assertions that on
examination are lacking in credibility. The third point stems
from the SoS's claim that "I have travelled right around
the country speaking to people about our plans. I am confident
there is large-scale support for this project in the North and
Midlands and among the business community across the UK".
Doubts arise unbidden in one's mind: what did he actually
say; to how many: was it balanced and objectivecons
as well as proswere they serious two-way engagements? On
what solid evidence does the SoS base his confidence of "large-scale
support among the business community across the UK"(?)quite
proper and legitimate questions to the SoS.
Collectively the illustrations at Annex A
and above make clear the SoS's absolute determination that HS2
is to go ahead regardless of the mass of well-founded evidence
telling against the scheme. Agreed, some of the evidence
(compelling evidence) has indeed come from specialist working
groups of experts in the Wendover, Aylesbury, and Amersham areas.
Commensurately powerful evidence has come from groups and others
much further afield, groups and internationally reputable economic
institutions that likewise bring to bear the expertise of acknowledged
and objective professionals.
In sum, the picture is one of stark contrast: careful
professional analysis and well founded factual evidence by study
teams and professional institutions on the one hand, countered
by ministerial rhetoric, innuendo, dissimulation, and refutation
on the other, coupled with the flawed scenario on which the HS2
scheme has been founded. It is the latter, the scenario, that
this submission addresses, and on which the submission's formal
aim is based. The submission is not intended to replicate evidence
presented to the Select Committee by the several and more groups
of experts. The aim is cast more narrowly.
The aim of this submission is to expose to the members
of the House of Commons Transport Select Committee the following
sets of issues that ought to be brought to bear in the examination
of the validity and soundness of the business case for the HS2
scheme as portrayed by HS2 Ltd, and to draw conclusions and to
make recommendations. The issues are:
infrastructure project cost, time, and effectiveness realities;
HS2 in its operational timeframe;
impact of Electric Vehicles;
tele-enabled business systems and their impact on business enterprise
and societal culture; and
Ltd analysis shortcomings, consequences and DfT assertions.
No major national infrastructure projects equivalent,
or similar, in scope and complexity to HS2, have been completed
on time and on budget throughout the past 25 years. Yet government
ministers and their officials of the day must have endorsed
as "robust" the assessments of project and in-service
costs, and the timetable for each, that were presented them by
officials. Equally each scheme would have been risk-assessed exhaustively,
and the competence of the implementation executive-team assessed
in terms of track record. To suggest such processes were without
such rigour would be to traduce the integrity and probity of all
Nevertheless, project costs and timetables have proved,
time and again, to be double, treble, and more,
the figures that had been put confidently "on the table"
by ministers for Treasury or Cabinet endorsement. Importantly,
several of those projects were significantly less complex and
than the proposed HS2 scheme. In the outcome the HS2 scheme's
assessed cost and timetable would almost inevitably be double,
and more, the figures on which the Cabinet would be asked to "sign
off". Protestations by today's ministers and officials to
the contrary would undermine government credibility. The old saw
that: "Ah, yes, but this time it will be different,
you will se", would ring hollow.
Astonishingly, the Department for Transport, in response
to a Freedom of Information (FOI) requestcopy at Annex
Bhas replied that the department has no central record
of previous major infrastructure project performance; thus
no body of information against which to calibrate the assessments
provided to it by HS2 Ltd; thus, too, no document
available for DfT's own use and use by HS2 Ltd that sets down
guidance drawn from the many investigations into past-project
If none exists elsewhere within the department, or
within HM Treasury, the National Audit Office could well be an
informed sourceor be invited to draw on its many post-project
investigations to compile one for the DfT and the Treasury. Such
a compendium would be worth it weight in gold to ministers and
official alike. HS2 Ltd is without one but, when challenged during
one of the Consultation Road Shows, one of its senior executives
replied that "but we had had a chat with HS1 people"
[today's people?]: the planners, cost estimators and project
implementers of those now distant years would no doubt have been
long gone to distant pastures.
Based on the above, the Chancellor of the Exchequer
should extend the civil works phase, reserve at least £36
billion [£36,000 millionall too easy to confuse the
Bs and Ms] denominated in today's prices, and factored for 15
years-on-years of cost and price of inflation, to fund the HS2
Phase One scheme, should it go ahead, and add equivalent up-ratings
for each subsequent leg. More profoundly, one would expect the
Chancellor, secure in his declared prudence, to instigate an independent
thorough-going, evidence-based, investigation into HS2 Ltd's cost
analyses, and what the company has missed, drawing to the full
on its own, and National Audit Office (NAO) records of past outcomes.
SETTING HS2 IN
During the recent series of Road Shows by HS2 Ltd,
when faced with challenging questions, numbers of the company's
senior officials claimed that the work was still only at high
level and thus it was not possible to satisfy the questioner's
request. One justification given was that the fine detail of the
topographical line of route had yet to be determineda known
unknown. "Unknown-unknowns" were inconvenient
subjects. One such unknown-unknown, and hugely important, is hydrology,
yet to be scoped and studied by the HS2 Ltd team. Some aspects
of hydrology may well not be amenable to resolution; other aspects
may require a considerable injection of funds and lengthy extension
of the civil works phase: unknown-unknowns indeed.
All told, the duration of construction of Phase One
as calculated by the company is over optimistic. Even if the calculations
were accurate the first HS2 train would commence operational service
until some 15 years from now. HS2 would continue in service (if
not bankrupt) into and beyond the 2050s. Will the business and
societal practices of the 2020s-2050s, be those of yesterday and
today? Would the British populace have denied itself the benefits
of the manifold technological innovations that will have swept
across the world beyond our shores? HS2 Ltd and its sponsor department
believe this to be so, to answer: "yes, it
would deny itself".
For, in its forecast of passenger demand for an HS2
the company has taken it as axiomatic that past growth rates will
continue year on year into the long term. Ms Theresa Villiers,
Minister for Transport has, in a very recent interview, expressed
total confidence in this HS2 Ltd forecast.
Moreover, during one of the consultation Road Show
sessions several HS2 Ltd senior officials were likewise as confident.
None were able to put flesh on that particular bone, though, and
when asked the extent to which they had considered the impact
of disruptive technologies on their forecasts there were blank
looks. They did not understand the term
let alone show any awareness of the transformative technologies
that would shatter HS2 passenger number calculations.
What are these transformative technologies that will
prove disruptive to HS2? Many objectors to HS2 have cited two
particular ones in their letters to the press and to MPs. What
has been missing from many of the letters has, however, been evidence
to back the assertions. This submission focuses on two sets of
One is Telepresence business systems and their derivatives.
The other is electric vehicle (EV) technologies and associated
advances in electric power distribution. There is huge progress
on each of these fronts. Amazingly HS2 Ltd senior strategists
seemed unaware of what is happening in these burgeoning fields,
let alone their consequences for an HS2. They seem cocooned, shut
off from all this, yet the impact of each on the economics of
the scheme are momentous. Why this is so remains, for the public
at large, an open question. Each technology will have gone through
15-20 years of further productive development and innovation by
the time an HS2 could become operational. The two technologies
will be major factors in the ways in which business is conducted
and in which society sets itself in this new era. The two merit
attention here, beginning with EVs.
Elsewhere that particular Road Show week the Institution
of Engineering and Technology (IET) was hosting a series of professional
lectures, conferences, and workshops having a bearing on HS2 (see
Annex C). One series, led by automotive industry technical executives,
focused on progress in EV engineering progress, and battery technologies.
The companion series focused on current work toward the "smart"
electric power grid and associated technical standards for the
EV age (further evidence, too, that the automotive and the power
generation companies, are committed to a future more "green"
than now). None of this work is being undertaken in isolation
within the UK. Note that HMG's Department for Transport is much
engaged in assisting, promoting and subsidising this transformational
When will this EV world come to pass? Not this year.
Current battery technology limits EVs to a range of some 90 miles.
Across the international automotive industry [Renault to Rolls-Royce]
the sums being invested in EV and in battery development are enormous,
and consistent with each company seeking competitive edge (Renault:
£3.5 billion invested, and 1,000 staff engaged in its programme).
Similar sums are being invested in new vehicle-transmission drive
systems and electric motors. Renault is just one of many, and
was at the forefront at IET's recent conference week. Views from
within the industry, confided no doubt to the DfT, are that affordable
vehicles with 500-mile ranges will be commonplace well before
2026. Will this encourage the 2020s business folk to switch from
their convenient and "green" vehicles to HS2? HS2 Ltd
has not tested this area, and, seemingly, nor has its paymaster,
Renault UK's Andrew Heiron, authorities such as Ian
McDonald, technical director of future transport systems, member
of the IET transport policy group and chair of the IET EV Infrastructure
technical, group, and the Society of Automotive Engineers are
well able to provide an industry-centred briefingone from
the coal-faceto the Select Committee. Equally, DfT technologists
should be well placed to provide a complementary brief to the
Committee on the subject and on the department's initiatives and
ambitions for this field: EV, battery and drive-train advances,
the "smart" grid, charging stations and networks, et
al, including the "green" dimension. They may well
have done so already, so adding an EV Annex to this submission
would be superfluous. This is less likely to be so in respect
of Telepresence and other tele-enabled business systems.
The SoS has asserted that the lack of a [an ultra]
high-speed rail service is the over-riding impediment to the success
of the business community of today, placing the enterprises at
serious disadvantage. No robust evidence that this will be so
during the projected HS2 operating timeframe has been tabled for
What has substance is that through the adoption
of telepresence and its derivatives, private companies large and
small have re-cast their business methods to great commercial
advantage. Years ago the forerunner, video-conferencing, was hugely
expensive and perceived as "clunky", awkward to use,
conveying a sense of separation rather than one of togetherness,
so was adopted by relatively few. The contrast to today's technologies
is startling. They are easy to use, effective, and enable businesses
to drive down their costs, including travel budgets, achieve associated
time-savings, improve individual efficiency, and enable businesses
to do things not possible previously [a much vaunted HMG
ambition for the private enterprise sector].
Particular Select Committee members will know that
government, too, is taking advantage of the most basic of these
benefits. Departments have been instructed to require, unless
there is a sufficiently convincing "business-case" that
justifies travel, the use of departmental telepresencing-teleconferencing
This is demonstrated amply in Annex D, which summarises
to a series of FOI requests made during December 2010. Note the
further goal of carbon emission reduction in three of the five
departmental justifications. Note, too, that the Department for
Transport (DfT) cites travel costs, time saving and "green"
issues as prime justifications for insisting on the use of Vc-Tp.
Astonishingly, and putting the DES to one side, not
one of those departments holds records of resulting cost or time
savings (or is prepared to collate them)not even the DfTso,
seemingly, HMG has no means of measuring the value for money of
its departments' Vc-Tp investments. However, undoubtedly departmental
chief accounting officers will have been required by the Treasury
to cut travel budgets savagely, and should therefore have "before
and after" travel budget details, details relevant to the
HS2 scenario. However, other benefits might be accruing to departments,
and it would be helpful to know what and how great they are. Savings
made within the private enterprise and charity sectors tend to
be measured, and can be impressive [Guide Dogs: £200k
invested in videoconferencing equipment brought travel costs down
by £600kone major British-based international bank
must be getting at least as good rate of return, its staff having
rung up some 200,000 Tp sessions during a recent 12-month period].
These systems are available for purchase, for lease,
and for use on a pay-as-you-go, walk-in, basis. They are being
snapped up. Evidence? To save Transport Select Committee researchers
undue time, a series of relevant extracts from reputable weeklies
and professional institutions, and accompanying commentary, is
set out in the briefing document at Annex E. The annex provides
a flavour of what is here today, and what lies ahead in the immediate
It is recognised that the subject comes naturally within the remit
of the Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee, which
might possible have listed it for review (?). If so, those members
may well look at how the technologies might evolve throughout
the years into the mid 2020s.
Realistically, the first phase of the projected HS2
would not come into operational service until or beyond that period.
The likely business customers of that time and into the mid-life
of an HS2 would be the highly computer-literate teenagers of today,
grown to maturity. They are people for whom a laptop, a display
system, a smart phone, Facebook, LinkedIn and more, are already
indispensable accoutrements: They have technology at their fingertips,
in their ears, and in their faces. They are the children of the
age of instant communication, looking for always for more, and
for the attention grabbing latest innovation. The social milieu
would keep in step.
And who are these children, the future potential
business executives of the 2020-40s? They are likely to include
the presently young children of members of the Transport Select
Committee, of Prime Minister Cameron, his Shadow Edward Miliband;
Danny Alexander Chief Secretary of the Treasury, and of Michael
Gove et al. Are those children to be prevented from immersing
themselves in today's and tomorrow's telecomms-based technologies
and societal norms, and from engaging on equal terms with their
technologically-literate peers, in order to rescue the business
case for the HS2 scheme and its economic justification?
It would be a grave mistake for the DfT and HS2 Ltd
to continue to base HS2 rail passenger projections for the mid
2020s and beyond on the answers to their questions of today's
typical middle-aged business personspersons who in the
main will have been long retired by then, and whose understanding
of technology and its use will be limited to that of a bygone
age. HS2 passenger projections, to have validity, must be set
firmly within the technological and societal era of that period.
That this has not happened is an inexcusable omission by HS2 Ltd
and ministers. It must be corrected.
There is much, much, more in the technological offing,
as evinced in Annex E. In sum, such technologies and ways of working
and doing business really are transformational and will affect
societal norms. There will be two important benefits to 2020s-40s
society that are of direct relevance to HS2. One will be the opportunity
for all parties to focus much more on localism and Big Society
issues, in that the need to travel to work or on business will
diminish hugely. The other key benefit will be the contribution
from much reduced travel [and adoption of EVs] to the onerous
carbon-reduction targets to which HMG has internationally committed
HS2 LTD ANALYSIS
A great deal of thought has been put HS2 Ltd's staff
and retained consultants into the drafting, phrasing and cosmetics
of the plethora of documents that have been put into the public
domain. It is apparent that the material has been crafted such
as to allay reader anxiety and to put an attractive gloss on the
HS2 scheme. In part this has gone too far, to the point on occasion
of misleading the average reader. Two related examples, chosen
because, although so blatantly obvious to those affected, could
be taken by others as reassuring, including off-routers who have
doubts about HS2.
The examples appear in HS2 Ltd's Appraisal of Sustainability
Main Report Volume One and its companion Non Technical Summary.
The latter, in its paragraph 4.1.5, and the former in its paragraph
3.3.4, inform the reader that "The proposed scheme would
follow the A413 corridor
before passing to the south-west
of Wendover and Aylesbury". This is shown visually in Figure
2 of Volume One, which depicts the line of route as not encroaching
on either place. It does encroach: the line of route lies
within Wendover Village boundary and within the southern boundary
of Aylesbury. The average, without this prior knowledge of the
local geography, could assume, happily for the DfT, that "south-west
of" would mean distant fromby a mile, five miles?
Misinformation, disinformationor clever "word-smithing"?
That wording was not casual. When it happens the credibility of
an entire document is undermined, often fatally, with a knock-on
to its corporate supervisor and is true for HS2.
Equally not casual was the use of the phrase "the
A413 corridor", chosen deliberately and with care. The SoS
had already asserted incorrectly that the A413 is a major trunk-road
corridor. Thus, implicitly, using its line-of-route would be wholly
consistent with government policy of confining railway lines to
such corridors whenever and wherever possible. It is yet another
illustration of self-serving and misleading propaganda.
Also detracting from the scheme's credibility was
the treatment of "HS2 noise" during the several Road
Shows. Sound-reducing, still-air, booths had been erected in the
halls for visitors to listen via headphones to the difference
between recorded countryside noise and the noise to be heard at
a distance of 150 metres from a supposedly HS2 railway engine
and carriages travelling at relatively high speed - no buffeting
pressure wave accompanied the sound. The difference in noise intensity
was little less intrusive and loud than the noise made by a car
being driven past the hall at less than 30mph. Such a contrast
between the headphone-based noise and the real-life thundering
blast of noise and buffeting heard and felt in nearby Berkhamstead,
standing out in the open at a distance of 150 metres from the
town's railway line, while the main-line trains thunder past.
But what science was being used HS2 Ltd's specialist
acoustic-engineering consultants to gauge noise and pressure waves
from yet to-be-designed 250 mph trains and carriages? When asked
during one of the Road Shows about the physics, the person to
whom the question was put immediately changed the subject. Instead,
he confided that sound recorders had been taken to the Continent
and to Kent and noise levels measured (so, what physics, what
science?). That is not the sole area in which applied-science
seems to have been absent: hydrology
being one, and which would come within the general remit of the
Environment Select Committee.
But why draw the attention the foregoing five paragraphs
and the examples in Annex A to yourselves, the members of the
Transport Select Committee, which from outside parliament would
seem to be the HS2 "lead" Committeeand risk the
charge of impertinence? Put simply, it is an aide mémoire
that speaks for itself. And this section of the submission ends,
appropriately, with a scrutiny of remarks made by the SoS and
one of his Departmental "sources" as to the numbers
of responses to the HS2 Consultation Questionnaire. The remarks:
Transport department sources, pointing to what they
insisted was a relatively low number of responses, said the last
major transport consultation, on building a third runway at Heathrow
Airport, drew almost 70,000 submissions. The proposed takeover
of BSkyB received 156,000 responses they added, while more than
100,000 suggestions were put forward as part of the Treasury's
"Spending Challenge" ahead of last year's Spending Review,
and more than two million people responded to a petition in 2007
on road pricing.
Mr Hammond said: "over the last five months
we have made every effort to offer those affected by our proposals
the chance to learn more about the scheme and to respond to the
consultation. Despite those unprecedented attempts to engage as
many people as possible the relatively low level of submissions
suggests that there is not a widespread groundswell of opposition
to the plans that the anti campaigners from the Chilterns have
"Relatively Low Numbers"
Third runway, almost 70,000 submissions. How simple,
how quick, to type in a simple no or yes.
BskyB, 156,000 submissions.
How easy, how quick, to type in a simple no or yes,
The Spending Challenge, more than 100,000 suggestionshow
simple, how quick, to type one's pet phrase,
Road pricing, more than two million responded.
How simple, how quick, to type in "No".
Contrast these four with the complexity of the HS2
Consultation questionnaire: nine carefully crafted questions on
which there was need to cogitate, each question demanding a thoughtful
and considered responsewith, note, a limit when responding
on-line of 2,000 characters. Adding to the conciseness challenge,
when well into the last answer, the "system" had demanded
that one registered first. The site was unhelpful in this, providing
the daunted with a reason for giving up. Registration, surprisingly,
had not been the on-screen start point, yet so obvious. (Why?).
All told, the questionnaire really was a challenge,
and one that the very considerable number, 40,000 souls, accomplished.
"The Chance to Learn More and Respond"
Every effort to offer those affected
the chance to learn more. Note the choice of wording, "those
affected": in other words only the citizens who live hard-by
the Phase One London-Birmingham route.
Unprecedented attempts to engage as many people
as possible. Implicitly, therefore, engaging only those
people living hard-by the Phase One route, not people off-route.
Not a widespread groundswell of opposition to
the plans as
have claimed. 40,000
is actually a very considerable number of people who put themselves
out and invested what could well have been considerable time and
thought. in order to accede to the invitation to respond. Not
simple, not quick.
And note the continuing self-serving and consciously
misleading wording of the remarks quoted on the preceding page:
one further exemplar. The Road Shows were held actually at just
a few places likely to be affected adversely by an HS2, none
held at significantly off-route locations.
The substantive question is therefore: "In what
ways, where, and for how long, did the DfT engage 'as many
people as possible' living off-route, made them aware
of the consultation, and encouraged them to respond to its questionnaire?"
The count of off-route non-respondents must not be allowed to
be proclaimed as having demonstrated "that there is not
a widespread groundswell of opposition". Effectively,
those living off-route were not consulted by the DfT.
One wonders how many off-route local newspapers carried
DfT material about HS2 and its pros and cons, how many off-route
newspapers publicised the Road Shows, and the distance of the
venues from the readership population? One wonders, too, what
initiatives were taken by the DfT to engage off-route populations
via local radio stations? Valid questions.
And how many local MPs were alive to the scheme and
its manifold consequences? The mid July reply by one very busy
West Country MP to a constituent's letter urging the MP to challenge
HS2, speaks volumes. It began "
this is an issue
that I have tried (not) to get involved in, as it has little immediate
and the west country
" We hear
on broadcast news and read that this "nothing to do with
me" position is held by numbers of "off-route"
MPsyet another cogent reason for the Transport Select Committee
to invite HS2 submissions from informed and qualified professionals,
and to put the outcome of its examinations into the public domain,
and in the House of Commons Library.
It is evident from the foregoing that the Secretary
of State for Transport is implacable in his determination to force
the HS2 scheme through parliament. [Such blind determination is
a characteristic of those who have become prisoners of their policies
and programmesbecause of its direct relevance to HS2 a
brief after-note (pp 11-12) has been included in this submission].
The SoS has been impervious to challenge and dismissive of even
the most compelling evidence that is not consonant with his goal.
This should not be used to bury that evidence, that shows, indeed
can prove, that HS2 would be both an economically and environmentally
destructive investment of the nation's at-risk treasure.
This submission has concentrated on the inevitability
of significant cost and time over-runs were the scheme to go ahead.
It highlights the need to set the scheme in its operational timeframe.
It highlights, too, the technological and societal issues of the
period that will affect adversely HS2 economics and its business
case. In other words the impact of the widespread use by then
of electric vehicles, and the wholesale use by private and public
organisations of tele-business systems that will enable the organisations
to cut business travel to the bone. The submission points out
that none of these three realities has been factored into the
HS2-passenger forecasts into the long term,
and asks why. The submission leaves the reader to ponder on the
potential for conflict between four policies: carbon reduction
targets [drastic reduction in travel]; support for manufacturing
industry [low no-emission electric vehicles], encouraging
business efficiency and competitiveness [adoption wholesale
of tele-enabled systems that do away with much of the need for
travel] on the one hand, and HS2 realities on the other.
The submission continued by dissecting parts of key
HS2 Ltd documents and ministerial statements that can be construed
justifiably as misleading, and sets out and scrutinises numbers
of sweeping assertions by the SoS regarding the HS2 consultation
process and the numbers who responded to the associated DfT questionnaire.
In particular it has pointed-up more than once, instances where
two things, unrelated one to the other, have been conjoined to
create a propaganda picture, which on closer scrutiny is wholly
lacking in substance.
In sum, the submission poses many important questions
that need serious study and factual answers, thereby fulfilling
its aim of exposing the issues to the members of the Transport
Select Committee. Yet some of the issues would seem to come legitimately
within the individual remits of the Business [Tp], Energy
[Electricity Smart Grid and EV charging network; carbon reduction
measures], Environment [hydrology and much more], Communities
[impact on local communities and businesses] and Treasury
[application of lessons from other major projects; soundness
and limitations of HS2 Ltd; economics and value for money].
Equally, should a lessons-to-be-learned guide not be available
from the National Audit Office, the NAO could be invited to brief
the Transport Select Committee (all Committees?) to their advantage
on lessons it has drawn from its own reviews of comparable infrastructure
and other major government-sponsored projects.
One way forward would be for your committee members
to commission specialist consultancies to examine each of the
facets italicised in the parentheses above, and report their findings.
On the other hand it would seem especially advantageous for those
other the five named Select Committees to be invited to take on
their appropriate shares of the overall HS2 review (and with the
opening for each to commission external professional studies).
This would limit the considerable burden facing Transport Select
Committee membership. More importantly it would bring the separate
and additional experience to bear on matters that one would not
expect Transport Committee members to have gained. The further
advantage, to parliament and to the "democratic process",
would be to enable those many more MPs to contribute and be able,
therefore, to communicate their informed judgements about the
pros and cons of the HS2 scheme to their constituents.
From the foregoing it is concluded that the cost-benefit
calculations and the economics assessments of the HS2 scheme are
incomplete in having:
assumed that HS2 passenger numbers would without
question continue their present year-on-year rise into the distant
set HS2 in terms of yesterday's business and automotive
ignored the adverse consequences for HS2-passenger
demand of the business and automotive technologies that will be
commonplace during the in-service life of an HS2;
invested insufficient intellect in confounding issues
including noise and hydrology; and
not taken into its assessments, forecasting, costing,
and timetabling the lessons from over-runs, omissions, and mistakes
of the many government-sponsored major infrastructure projects
initiated throughout the past 25 yearsand which have been
the subject of National Audit Office (NAO) investigations.
It is concluded, further, that were these factors
to be examined by professionally qualified outside experts, the
cost-benefit figures and economics of the HS2 scheme would be
entirely negative, and the civil works timeframe and costs considerably
It is concluded, also, that considerable lengths
are being gone to, to seduce the population at large into believing
SoS's assertions: assertions to the effect that all and
any evidence that exposes weaknesses in the HS2 case by people,
even of unimpeachable probity, who live on or near the route,
is tainted by "nimbyism" and thus can rightly be dismissed
It follows therefore that the Select Committee, could
at its next hearing seize the opportunity to require hard factual
evidence from the SoS that could justify his propaganda mission
and continuing calumny.
It is concluded, moreover that a wealth of knowledge
is available in the industrial world for the Committee that could
be used to illuminate:
Telepresence and Tele-robotic penetration of the
private sector, including major manufacturers, the banking industry,
contract production companies, and design establishments, and
the nature and extent of the benefits that are accruing to each;
automotive industry intentions and production programmes
in respect of EV products, and the benefits that will accrue to
the nation; and
the status of technical standards, plans and schedules
for a smart electric-power grid to provide for the EV, and the
developing scenario of EV batter-charging points.
It is concluded, lastly, given the spread of HS2
issues that impinge on the remits of other Select Committees,
that there would be great technical and parliamentary advantages
were the Transport Select Committee to delegate relevant aspects
to the relevant specialist Committees.
It is recommended that the Transport Select Committee:
invite the Business, Energy, Environment, Communities,
and Treasury Select Committees to take on, on behalf of itself,
those aspects of the HS2 scheme that fall naturally within their
individual remitshe Transport Committee acting as co-ordinator
and office of prime responsibility;
in respect of Telepresence and derivative business
commission, possibly in conjunction with the Business
Select Committee, a study by, say, the specialist Market Research
company) Gartner, or Frost & Sullivan, to review the
field, the uses to which Tp and DBSs are being put as a service
offering, on the one hand, and as a procured product on the other,
in the private and public sectors, to ascertain and quantify targeted
and realised benefits, to research innovative ways of exploiting
the technologies, and to forecast growth and sectorial penetration;
invite authoritative and knowledgeable executives
from the TP sector to brief the Committee on the technologies,
latest advances in the field, the areas of application and take-up.
in respect of EVs and associated electrical energy
invite in conjunction with the Energy Select Committee,
authoritative figures such as Ian McDonald, technical director
of future transport systems, member of the IET transport policy
group and chair of the IET EV Infrastructure technical, group,
from the Society of Automotive Engineers, say Andrew Heiron, of
Renault UK and from the UK Power industry to brief the
Committee on developments and product intentions leading to the
take up of EVs from the early 2020s and their supporting energy
in respect of HS2 issues:
in the absence of NAO reports held by the DfT, invite
the NAO to provide summaries to the Committee and to HS2 Ltd of
their reports on the failures, and their causes, that dogged the
many government-sponsored major infrastructure projects initiated
throughout the past 25 years;
task HS2 Ltd with applying the content of those summaries
to the HS2 scheme, and reporting the outcomes;
task the DfT and HS2 Ltd with re-setting the company's
HS2 passenger-demand forecasting in the mid 2020s-mid 2040s and
taking proper account of the impact of TP-DBSs and EV take-up,
and reporting back;
in concert with the Environment Select Committee,
call on HS2 Ltd to address the consequential issues of hydrological
disturbance along and in the vicinity of the Phase One line of
route, and the costs of avoidance and remediation, and report
call upon the Secretary of State for Transport to
provide the Committee and the public at large with hard factual
evidence sufficiently robust and objective, that could justify
his stream of dismissive and pejorative assertions and questioning
the morality and probity of those who provide evidence that undermines
his case for the HS2 scheme.
472 The Annexes to this submission are not printed
with this document. Back
The author is not entirely a "layperson"' in this respect,
having worked within the Whitehall complex for some 8 years in
policy, planning, infrastructure-project scoping, specification
and initiation, followed by a further eleven years from the outside
as contractor and consultant-and co-author of a 1994 report into
shortfalls in HMG procurements of complex large-scale information
Also at local-regional level: Edinburgh and Croydon tram systems,
the Scottish parliament building, the Cambridge redundant rail-track
bus route-some incurring five and more year overruns, with comparable
cost increases. Back
An example offered them related to concerns in the late 1890s
that the streets of London and other major cities would be a foot
deep in manure within 10 years because of the continuing increase
in demand for public and private horse-drawn transport. Come the
year, the motor vehicle was supplanting the horse (and its droppings)-disruptive
It would have been useful to complete the picture. Unfortunately,
requests for such information from other government departments,
made in January via constituency MPs, "went astray"
in the respective MP's in-trays. Hastening has taken place. If
received in time, any positive outcomes will be offered as an
after-note to this submission. Back
As yet there is no professional or trade body representing this
new sector. However, there are vendors and users more than able
to brief on the market place, on value for money, and on the impact
on businesses and on their bottom-lines. Back
Including the destructive effects on aquifers, on streams feeding
reservoirs, and consequences for near-route and on-route settlements
as well as natural environments. Back
Those canvassed in any fresh forecasting must be informed unambiguously
of the Tp and EV scenario that will have come to full fruition,
and what these hold out for work-life and leisure by the anticipated
HS2 mid 2020s in-service date. Back