5 thoughts on “Conometricks and the new NAFF ‘case’ for HS2”

  1. Posted 24/10/2013 at 15:55 | Permalink

    When I was writing ‘They Meant Well’, a Hobart Paper about government project disasters, I must admit I was surprised to come across a 2002 study by Flyvbjerg et al which concluded that cost overruns are best explained not by error but by ‘strategic representation’ — in other words lying — in order to get projects started. I’m afraid that’s exactly what is happening with HS2. John may prefer to call it ‘Conometricks’. At all events it seems clear that politicians and others are deliberately not telling the (whole) truth in order to try to build plausibility into their ‘passion’ for HS2. It is a disgracefully irresponsible proposed use of taxpayers money. The only thing I can find in their favour is that at least they do seem to have included a decent chunk of contingency allowance, as they certainly should (though, according to Richard Wellings, not nearly enough).

  2. Posted 25/10/2013 at 09:41 | Permalink

    Your methodology and dodgy accounting was savaged by members of all parties in the House of Lords this week. Do you think that those in glass houses should be careful of throwing stones?

  3. Posted 25/10/2013 at 15:01 | Permalink

    @Chris – I had the misfortune to listen to some of yesterday’s debate. It was clear to me that the Lords concerned either hadn’t read the paper at all or at least hadn’t read it properly. My impression was that they were parroting briefings from third parties in their misleading and inaccurate comments.

    Since its publication in August, several developments have vindicated the paper, with announcements of substantial additional tunnelling to buy-off local opposition, large-scale taxpayer subsidised regeneration schemes, and new transport infrastructure to make cities ‘HS2 ready’. These extra costs are exactly as predicted in the analysis. The recent ‘logrolling’ behaviour of officials in London is also noteworthy.

  4. Posted 25/10/2013 at 17:32 | Permalink

    re. Chris’s comment above: Chris, you are not challenging my analytical critique at all; but I presume ,
    referring to Dr. Wellings study… perhaps you could address yourself to what I have said?…if you intend to make your comments pertinent to the posting?

  5. Posted 28/10/2013 at 10:03 | Permalink

    Excellent piece – timely, short and compelling. Four thoughts:
    (1) Britain’s railway system was built in the 19th century entirely without subsidy. There may indeed have been significant reverse subsides in the form of bribes paid by the railway companies to MPs.
    (2) I am extremely sceptical that there are any significant benefits not captured by the market. if there are then for sure there will be similar benefits in the foregone alternatives.
    (3) The whole thing stinks of the ‘appraisal optimism’ that was the ruination of the old nationalised industries.
    (4) If it is such a good idea why don’t the civil servants and politicians invest, say, 10% of their pensions in it.

    Robert Miller

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