Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The economics behind whether to build high speed rail in England

Link here to John Jay column.

An excerpt:

Fourth, there will be large benefits, mostly to business travellers, from time savings. This discussion has degenerated into a dispute over how effectively people use time on trains. My experience of forced inclusion in their mobile phone conversations suggests that they do not.
But speculations on the value of passengers’ time miss the point. Many travellers – not just business users – would pay a premium, possibly substantial, for a faster journey. This amenity could and should be paid for by the travellers themselves, not conferred as a costly gift from taxpayers. Yet no one will back HS2 as a commercial project.

This is a really nice article.  As someone who lived in England for four months, I loved the ease of travel via train, underground train, and bus.  That being said, I found this article somewhat convincing that the high-speed rail may not be needed.  The one counter-point I would have liked to seen explored ...

Taxpayers pay for roads ... so it makes sense that the full cost of trains shouldn't be borne by customers.  If you deduct the amount that would have otherwise been paid for roads ... is the high speed train a good investment?

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