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Cost benefit analysis and high speed rail

Von: kev (kev15973@googlemail.com) [Profil]
Datum: 07.06.2010 01:54
Message-ID: <c250ace9-cf25-4773-86b9-5fbbdb119aa3@h13g2000yqm.googlegroups.com>
Newsgroup: uk.railway
Interesting article in the FT:

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/0e3eb964-71b1-11df-8eec-00144feabdc0.html

Radical transport thinking sparks dispute

Britain’s key transport policymakers are embroiled in a heated disp
ute
over how best to allocate limited resources in a debate that will
shape Britain’s future transport networks.

The dispute is particularly intense over the priority that should be
given to construction of a dedicated high-speed rail network, which
scores relatively poorly on traditional measures of value for money.

The argument has pitched supporters of traditional cost-benefit
analysis – where a potential scheme’s total costs are weigh
ed against
its likely benefits – against those who believe the approach produc
es
insufficiently radical thinking.

Cost-benefit sceptics believe the important point is to decide what
kind of networks the UK needs to achieve its policy goals and to
construct them, even if they score poorly under existing value
measures.

Some of the sceptics’ arguments were deployed in a high-speed rail
policy paper in March, when Lord Adonis, Labour’s former transport
secretary, stressed the need for new networks. The projects outlined
in the paper had a relatively poor ratio of benefits to costs – onl
y
2.4 to one – under conventional analytical techniques. But Lord Ado
nis
argued that the real benefit would be in the system’s effect on the
overall transport network.

It remains unclear which way the government – whose transport
secretary, Philip Hammond, is new to the brief – will lean.

Stephen Glaister, a transport economist and executive director of the
pro-motoring RAC Foundation, a leading traditionalist, said a process
had been under way within the Department for Transport to undermine
cost-benefit analysis.

“There’s a politically driven wish to see these issues addr
essed in a
much more broad and politically friendly way,” Prof Glaister said.
“The Eddington position was that investment should follow demand, n
ot
try to create it.”

However, Dieter Helm, an Oxford University economist and leading
sceptic of the traditional approach, says politicians have to make
decisions about future transport needs. “If you take the view that
we’re basically going to phase out air travel between cities in Eur
ope
and replace it by something else, or . . . 
move to electric cars, then
certain things follow,” he says.

“Europeans work out what bits the system needs. We start with the b
its
and never think about the systems.”

<snip>

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