Investments in rail infrastructure and nuclear power are hot topics in the UK and Finland. The UK has just announced that the HS2 high speed train link between London and the North will go ahead at a planned cost of over €100 billion! That is almost double the first estimate of around €56 billion…
The Chinese have now offered to manage and build the project at a lower cost, with a faster timetable and with faster locomotives. I expect Trump will have something to say about that given his current thoughts about China, although the UK already has an ongoing arrangement for nuclear power with the Chinese. The government-owned company, the China General Nuclear Power, has partnered with France’s EDF to help fund a third of the €25 billion cost of the Hinkley Point nuclear power plant.
Here in Finland, railway investments are also definitely seen an important means to reduce fossil fuel emissions. This week saw the announcement that central and local government authorities have reached agreement on establishing two project companies for high-speed rail links between Helsinki and Turku and between Helsinki and Tampere. The financing of the projects will be shared. Financial support for both projects has been applied through the EU’s Connecting Europe Facility.
The project companies would be responsible for the €225 million cost of planning, with total construction costs estimated to be between €8 billion and €9 billion for high-speed tracks and equipment covering several hundred kilometres between major cities.
There is not a huge difference in the length of the tracks between the 2 countries but the UK does have over 10 ten times Finland’s population so that must explain the cost differential too!
There is a similar difference in costs between the Hinkley Point and the TVO nuclear plant. Hinkley Point appears to be many times more expensive than the Finnish plant! The French contractors, also EDF, originally promised to have the Finnish nuclear power station up and running in 2009 at a fixed cost of €3 billion. Now 10 years later they may be able to get it up and running next year! Perhaps somebody should have warned the Brits before they chose EDF as the main contractor. French workers still like having long lunch breaks with plenty of wine, and that appears to hold up projects…
But really expensive cost overruns on UK projects should not surprise us. We all know that their Conservative politicians, who have been trying to run things there for the last 10 years, just cannot get things right! That could also explain why the UK is leaving the EU to be controlled by Trump! As somebody said recently Trump wants to have the UK as the 51st state because he wants to turn Buckingham Palace into a Trump Golf Club.