Tuesday, 29 January 2013

HS2 still needs to get all aboard

Only last week I applauded the publication of Making the Games - lessons learnt from the Olympics. Will we learn? Can we learn? 

Well we've now learnt of some of the early ingredients going into the mix for HS2 procurement and it does not strike me that we are looking at a recipe for success: 

  • A lack of political agreement in any party let alone cross party agreement;
  • Some politicians, even at this early stage, branding it an "enormous waste of money" while the Chancellor calls it "an engine for growth";
  • An estimated cost increase of almost £2bn in the past year;
  • The brief already beginning to change, including, the addition of a station at Manchester Airport;
  • A lack of winning the hearts and minds of key stakeholders on economic benefits;
  • Allegations of 'insider' knowledge which led to personal benefits while others lose;
  • Projections based on a 67 year whole life cost - heaven only knows what changes will take in transportation in the next 20 years never mind the next 67?
  • Legal challenges which have the potential to add years to the project.
Current projections are that the project should cost £34.5bn and be completed in 2034 - may be worth taking a note of that baseline figure and placing a bet on the actual figure and when the project will actually be signed off as completed.   

I remain completely agnostic as to whether or not HS2 is a good idea but have discussed before the need for accentuating the positive as part of a communications strategy, unfortunately the volume needs to be turned up and a bit more clarity on the business case. 

Although it is not too late to get the fundamentals in place, It doesn't look as if we've a good foundation for success yet. 

What we now need is some bravery in saying "get the basics right" otherwise we have a long slow journey ahead with little notion of the ETA or fare. 

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