This week’s focus: In January last year I argued that the UK government’s proposed investment in a north-south high-speed rail link (HS2) would not offer good value for money – see here. In the past week the projected cost of the scheme has risen by £10 billion while the benefits case has fallen by £21 billion.

My issue with HS2 is that genuine alternatives haven’t been developed or assessed. If the aim is economic growth in the north and increased rail capacity, there are many other ways you could invest, including, off the top of my head, super-fast broadband to reduce the need to travel, double-decker trains, a shift to buses on local routes to free up capacity, more space-efficient carriages to carry more passengers, higher-cost first class coaches to deter travellers from space-hungry seating, and better and faster transport links between northern cities.

I’m sure that you have more, and better, options. My point is that whenever you have a big decision to make, its quality is dramatically enhanced if you develop and consider genuine alternatives, rather than simply attaching yourself to the first option that comes to mind.

Where do you need to develop better alternatives for a big decision you’re working on?

Off The Record: Folsom Prison Blues by Johnny Cash

I bet there’s rich folks eatin’ in a fancy dining car

They’re probably drinkin’ coffee and smokin’ big cigars

But I know I had it comin’, I know I can’t be free

But those people keep a-movin’

And that’s what tortures me

© Stuart Cross 2013. All rights reserved.