Realist, not conformist analysis of the latest financial, business and political news

Of All The Dumb F**king Things

From our Swindon correspondent:

From the Birmingham Mail

 
The Government has given formal approval for the HS2 project to begin the construction phase.

It has issued a notice to proceed to the companies that will build the high speed railway.

HS2 minister Andrew Stephenson said: “While the Government’s top priority is rightly to combat the spread of coronavirus, protect the NHS and save lives, we cannot delay work on our long-term plan to level up the country.


“HS2 will be the spine of the country’s transport network, boosting capacity and connectivity while also re-balancing opportunity fairly across our towns and cities.
Look, we’re currently going through the Covid-19 thing and part of that is businesses adapting to working from home. Not all of them, of course. You can’t work an industrial lathe from the spare room, but in terms of the people who mostly use railways, and where peak demand is, it’s people going into offices to sit at PCs, and most of them can, to a certain extent, do it from home.

Now, at the end of this, lots of businesses that were previously reluctant to do it might reflect on it and decide that actually, this works out fine. They can cut the amount of office space they rent and people can work from laptops if they like. Maybe they can attract people from a slightly larger radius if they only have to do an hour’s commute every week.

I’m going to guess that there’ll be at least a 10% fall in rail travel, but I just don’t know. It’s already falling at peak every year as the culture changes, and this should give that a shot in the arm. But wouldn’t it be best to let this all finish, wait 3 or 4 months and see what the data tells us about demand? If it’s 20%, HS2 is going to be a glorious white elephant full of empty carriages by the time it’s open. Because it’s not like the remote work trend isn’t a gradually growing trend anyway.

“Following the decision earlier this year to proceed with the project, this next step provides thousands of construction workers and businesses across the country with certainty at a time when they need it, and means that work can truly begin on delivering this transformational project.”

Why do companies making railways need that certainty? If the employee is in a job, they’re already getting furlough money if they’re at home. Worst case, why not just pay the companies an advance until the decision is made and if we can it, they keep it? Why commit to the whole gazillions of quid this is going to cost?
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Quentin Vole
Quentin Vole
1 year ago

Presumably, when (as will inevitably be the case) this farrago is finally cancelled, we the taxpayers will be on the hook for extra billions in cancellation fees. Cui bono?

Pat
Pat
1 year ago

Of why not employ those construction workers to construct houses, which we are desperately and unquestionably short of?

Barks
Barks
1 year ago
Reply to  Pat

That would solve a real problem. Real problems aren’t meant to be solved. They are to be endlessly discussed, studied, analyzed and kept around as fodder for the next bunch.

Louie
Louie
1 year ago
Reply to  Pat

Were you thinking of expropriating Taylor Wimpey, Persimmon first?

Bloke on M4
Bloke on M4
1 year ago
Reply to  Pat

That’s not a building problem, it’s a planning problem.

TD
TD
1 year ago
Reply to  Pat

There was something rather funny in the San Francisco paper a week ago, where everyone is under pretty stringent lockdown, though based on the traffic I observed today while riding my bike, a lot more people are on the roads today than they were last week.

But back to SF. Apparently construction work is considered essential work if for “affordable” housing and permitted but work on market rate buildings is non essential and presently not allowed.

David Moore
David Moore
1 year ago

Quite amusing. In NZ, the Wellington council wants a couple of hundred million to build a conference center as part of public works for Covid-19 ‘shovel ready’ projects.

A conference center.

jabezfoodbotham
jabezfoodbotham
11 months ago
Reply to  David Moore

Talking about thing doesn’t fix ’em, but it doesn’t make ’em worse either.

Phoenix44
Phoenix44
1 year ago

We can also expect the firms that survive to increase their market share without too many new staff, and lots of firms to discover they don’t need all those managers and consultants back. They will find new jobs, but who knows where? HS2 is completely non-adaptable, completely fixed in place, form, size and function. Who spends £100 billion on something like that now?

Michael van der Riet
Michael van der Riet
1 year ago

That is Boris’s new nickname after all, the White Elephant.

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