Fac­tors for Cost:Ben­e­fit

Rail (UK) - - Let­ters -

It was good to see an ap­proach to Cost:Ben­e­fit Anal­y­sis (CBA) that showed the lim­its and the ben­e­fits of us­ing such a tech­nique ( Anal­y­sis,

RAIL 838). What needs to be clear is that CBA is a rank­ing de­vice show­ing the rel­a­tive worth of a bas­ket of projects. It does not (nor can­not) show whether the HS2 project, for ex­am­ple, is worth do­ing in its own right, in iso­la­tion.

Given the role of pol­i­tics, this may mean that the ‘best’ or high­est ben­e­fit projects do not al­ways get done first, or pos­si­bly at all. This may be cur­rently the case for the full Mid­land Main Line elec­tri­fi­ca­tion, for in­stance.

The value of jour­ney sav­ings - not the value of time per se, which should be left to the philoso­phers - is now a prob­lem.

Many peo­ple use rail jour­neys to com­plete of­fice work and other work-re­lated tasks. Re­duc­ing the jour­ney time from Manch­ester to Lon­don may gen­er­ate em­ploy­ment ben­e­fits, but th­ese have to be traded against ex­ist­ing users who have to find more time in the rest of their days for their ‘pa­per­work’, which may be a dis­ben­e­fit.

This needs to be in­cluded to get a truer pic­ture of the net so­cial worth of a project. Paul Brooks-Burke, Chorl­ton

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