One of the main reasons I voted against HS2 was the business case. From the figures before me I could not see how they will be able to sell enough tickets at sensible fares to make any return on this large investment. I did not wish to see UK taxpayers stranded with large losses and half empty trains.
News recently filtered out that maybe the Chinese will invest in HS2, though there has been no follow up with details of agreements. If the Chinese or any other potential investors out there will take over paying for the line and the trains in the belief that they know how to make a profit out of it, the taxpayer should welcome that and expedite a deal. It may well be the Chinese could cut the costs of the investment and boost ticket sales. If they took over the project that would be up to them and the UK taxpayer would be spared the risk. Alternatively the Chinese may study the economics further and conclude it is a not so easy to do, as they are canny business people.
What we do not want is any kind of government guarantee or underwriting of possible losses to be part of any sale to a foreign or private sector investor. The cheapest way of paying for the UK state investment will be for the UK state to borrow the money itself on its own balance sheet. Offering other investors guaranteed higher rates than the cost of the UK government capital would be a bad deal for taxpayers. Offering them shares in the venture whilst underwriting losses would be a bad deal for taxpayers.
There are many other infrastructure projects which could make a profit where private capital can be attracted in and where the private sector could be made to take all the risk. There should be fewer subsidised rewards for private investors than at present, not more.