The term white elephant refers to an extravagant, impractical gift that cannot be easily disposed of and costs enormous amounts of money to keep and maintain, considered as a burden rather than a gift. The phrase is said to come from the historic practice of the King of Siam (now Thailand) giving rare albino elephants to people who had displeased him, so that they might be ruined by the animals’ upkeep costs.
HS2, ‘gifted’ to the people of the UK, is the biggest White Elephant of the century. It has been revealed by Lord Berkeley that the likely cost of HS2, is £170 Billion. Paul Nolan reflects on the current HS2 madness and whether there’s still time to get off at the next stop.
‘I predicted a cost of over £100 Billion, two years ago. I had the misfortune of being caught up in roadworks in Southern England last week, as the works are now underway through the Chilterns.
Here are some of the mind-boggling statistics: –
- In January 2012, the Coalition Government gave the go ahead for the project, with the projected cost of circa £45 Billion.
- The projected cost is now £170 Billion.
- The annual cost is going to be in excess of £5.8 Billion, which is equal roughly the same cost as upgrading the rest of the UK train network, but obviously with much greater benefit to the whole country.
- £3.8 Billion is proposed to be allocated to road investment next year, rising to £4.8 Billion in 2023/2024, i.e. £1 Billion less than the annual cost of HS2, but of much greater benefit.
- The Government have now reneged on their promise to provide high speed broadband to the majority of the population by 2025.
- Only £1.2 Billion of the £5 Billion subsidy will be made available before 2025.
How can it make sense to proceed with HS2, when large sections of the country still struggle with internet speed? The pandemic has brought home the reality that with Zoom; Teams; Share etc., that by the time HS2 is proposed to be completed, there will be much more sophisticated ways of having face to face meetings with Clients from London, without having to go to London on a massively overpriced train.
This coupled with the fact that the Avanti Trains West Coast mainline service is perfectly good and does not need to be supplemented with a similar, albeit quicker service.
We need to stop HS2 now, and invest hard earned cash in broadband, roads and the existing rail network.’
Views of our Graduate Surveyor, Harry Bowers – let us know if you agree!