The sums are still wrong but HS2 steams on

The Sunday Times features research by the IEA on HS2

The cleverer the arguments required to justify a plan, the worse it is. I give by way of example a characteristically ingenious article in The Times by the soon-to-be Lord Finkelstein, explaining why it really does make sense to sink upwards of £50bn into the HS2 rail project.

Finkelstein argued that this scheme is exactly analogous to the late Steve Jobs’s design for the Hollywood studios of the animation business Pixar: putting everyone in one central atrium, rather than scattered among many buildings, “would maximise the number of creative encounters”.

In their new book The Blunders of Our Governments, Anthony King and Ivor Crewe identify the desire of ministers for the most spectacular and gold-plated solutions to apparent problems — instead of low-profile tweaking — as one of the principal causes of disastrous decisions.

This tendency obviously predates the period covered by King and Crewe — the past 35 years. Adam Smith noted in the 18th century: “The proud minister of an ostentatious court may frequently take pleasure in executing a work of splendour and magnificence, such as a great highway . . . But to execute a great number of little works . . . which . . . have n