Those opposed to hs2 form the usual right wing rag-bag of folks who are opposed to public spending, so it’s no surprise to find both the Taxpayers Alliance and the Institute of Economic Affairs amongst their numbers.
Prominent amongst them is Richard Wellings, the Deputy Editorial Director of the IEA. Wellings likes to pass himself off as a transport expert (solely on the basis of the fact he got a PhD in transport, his practical experience is zilch). Wellings also likes making things up – especially numbers. It was he who invented the ‘Hs2 will cost £80bn’ claim. He did this out by totting up costs of projects that have nothing to do with Hs2 (like Crossrail 2) and inventing railway projects no-one is actually planning to build (Hs2 to Liverpool).
These nonsensical figures play well in sections of the media but anyone with genuine analytical skills & transport knowledge (or even economics) knows what a load of old tosh they really are.
But Wellings has a problem. He has form for making up ridiculous claims for the cost of rail projects – and one of those claims is coming back to haunt him, which is making him very sensitive.
Back in 2008 he wrote a blog for the IEA in which he claimed Crossrail would cost between £20-30bn. Like his hs2 figure it’s a complete fantasy. Even a fag packet would resent having such calculations written on it. You can find it here
Here’s a copy of the claim;
It’s worth noting that this blog shows how crap Wellings is at predicting anything. Look at his comment about an interest rate rise!
Wellings big problem is that not only was Crossrail not cancelled, its also stayed well within the budget set for it. The project is 65% complete and all the (risky) tunneling is over. The bill is expected to remain well within the projected £14.8bn. That makes Wellings out by between £5.2bn to £15.2bn. That’s some fag packet!
So Welllings is starting to sweat. His credibility (never high) is on the line here.
He still insists on jumping in with both feet to the Hs2 debate on Twitter and today I challenged him on these figures. His response? He pretended he’d never made any such cost projections!
Not only is the man no good with figures, he’s no good with the truth either…