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Fur coat and no knickers

The government has now given the go-ahead to HS2 – £16 billion the high speed railway between London and Birmingham that will shave 20 minutes off the journey in 2026. For a further £16 billion, it is intended that it will reach Manchester in the 2030s. This is a shocking demonstration of the inability of Britain’s decision makers to join up their thinking.

Having decided to invest this amount on public transport, it can not possibly be the best use of resources to devote it to this one project.

“Fur coat and no knickers” is the phrase that comes to mind. It is unlikely that the opposition will succeed in overturning the project at this stage. When there are so many more worthwhile rail improvements urgently needed all over the country, I find it sad that prestige trumps utility yet again.

It would help if there was an effective means of measuring the external value of infrastructure. The value of “time saved” is a poor yardstick. We would argue that a better measure would be the aggregate increase in land value that arises from the project.