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High-Speed Rail Goes Over Cliff In England

High-speed rail is all the rage among progressives (they hate cars and mobility), but just everywhere it has been tried it has gone off the rails. Here’s the latest fiasco:

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak of the U.K. has canceled the planned Manchester extension of the under-construction HS2 (high-speed rail line) from London to Birmingham. A previous branch to Leeds was previously canceled and there is uncertainty about the final leg into London, which would terminate six miles short of Euston Station in central London.

What went wrong? Cost overruns. A rail system that was planned to cost £32 billion in 2012 now has three times that price tag, or £106 billion.

Does any of this debacle sound vaguely familiar? Oh. Right! This is exactly what has happened in California, as even the New York Times acknowledges:

The San Francisco Bay Area to metro Los Angeles line was to have cost $32 billion in 2008, but has now escalated, to as much as $113 billion. This is even after plans have been scaled back to sharing tracks with slower trains (non-high speed rail) on portions of the route. Moreover, extensions to Sacramento and San Diego are not included in the $113 billion price tag, having disappeared from plans rather like the Manchester and Leeds extensions in the UK.”

For readers who want a whole history of high-speed rail collapses, around the world, see:

Megaprojects and Risk: An Anatomy of Ambition, by Bengt Flyvbjerg [Oxford], Nils Bruzelius [University of Stockholm], and Werner Rothengatter [University of Karlsruhe).

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