IET: High Speed 2: proposals may increase carbon emissions

Leading engineers today suggest that flaws in the analysis of the High Speed 2 (HS2) proposal might result in the project producing more, not less, carbon dioxide.

Questions concerning the high speed and therefore higher energy consumption of the trains, the number of tunnels and assumptions on the number of people switching from air travel could mean that carbon emissions per journey would increase in comparison to current levels.

The warning, from the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), comes on today’s deadline for the Government’s consultation on the proposed HS2 and its recommended route from London to the West Midlands.

Paul Davies, Head of Policy at the IET, said: “We believe we have uncovered a number of flaws in the proposals, some of which question the claim that HS2, as proposed, will reduce carbon emissions.

“The case for HS2 relies on a number of assumptions made within the proposal. Some of these are flawed, for example not considering the effects of aerodynamic drag from environmental mitigation measures such as tunnels, which could lead to an increase in carbon emissions.”

The IET, Europe’s largest body of engineers warns that greater clarity is urgently needed to properly evaluate the costs and benefits of the proposals. But as the proposal stands, it leaves serious questions unanswered.

Other areas for concern include:
No service levels for the West Coast Main Line after the completion of Phase 1 have been provided. Such an assessment would indicate the number of new platforms which would be required for a redeveloped Euston station.
The comparators used in the economic analysis are inconsistent and do not represent the best realistic alternatives against which HS2 should have been judged.
No economic analysis has been provided for the link to High Speed 1.


Notes to editors:
A copy of the IET and RAE submission to the HS2 consultation is available on request.
Expert spokespeople are available for interview and comment.
The IET is Europe’s largest professional body of engineers and technicians with over 150,000 members in 127 countries.
The IET is a leading source of impartial authoritative advice on the impacts of technology on society.
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