scaffolding“All forecasts are forecasts”, according to Linton Cleeks, Parliamentary Extenuation Officer for HS2.

Before we were enlightened with this piece of wisdom, most of us thought that forecasts were based upon exhaustive, meticulous, widely researched information, gleaned by countless experts, from the advice of yet more experts.

But no… it isn’t quite like that, not in the parallel universe of HS2, think weather forecasts and you’re getting close.

The error in estimating the cost of Euston’s redevelopment was 40%, or around half a billion pounds to you and me, And I mean “You and Me”, because it is, after all, public money, no private concern would take on such a risky venture. Good job it was only a forecast… eh?

In HS2 central command, one imagines experts, mulling over plans and costings to find ways of saving a few quid.

“We could ‘bodge it a bit’… you know… stick a few platforms on the side”.

“Can we lose the tiled walls? That would save paying a tiler… rough bricks look nice, they’re all the rage in Battersea”.

“What about the escalators? Do we really need them? Couldn’t we have ladders instead… they’ve got some lovely ones in Wicks’s.

It’s not all bad news though, for now we know that the HS2 pocket calculator has a forecasting error factor of 40%, we can work the rest out for ourselves. The amount of years it will take to complete, will be 21 instead of 15, starting in 2017 giving us a completion date of 2038 rather than 2032. Unless of course the start date is 40% out.

The amount of passengers likely to use the line will be 40% more, meaning Old Euston will be unable to cope, with the influx, by a further 40%.

The cost of stage one will be not £17 to £20 Billion, but £23.8 to £28 billion and the final cost not £33.6 Billion, but rather just a tad over £47 Billion, the ‘tad’ being a mere £4 Million.

The worst of the debacle is that it’s business as usual, no heads are rolling down Parliamentary steps, they probably even earned a bonus!

At what point exactly do politicians start to worry, as the rest of us do, that this whole project is going to be a monstrously huge financial catastrophe? Yet another Humber Bridge, Concorde, TSR2 style disaster, to add to the record books.