Siemens, who have weighed into the debate on HS2 this week, were last week banned from bidding on all Government contracts in Brazil for the next five years. A federal court ruled that Siemens is prohibited from participating in public auctions and signing government contracts in Brazil because of suspected kickback payments.
Just hours after this ruling was made public, Siemens, as part of the High Speed Rail Industry Leaders Group (HSRILG), were backing a report which claimed that cancelling HS2 would mean £5bn in costs will have been needlessly lost and not recouped, despite only around £1bn having been spent on HS2 so far. The report also claimed that cancelling HS2 would make the UK less attractive to investors, that it lead to a brain drain, and that only £270m would be spent by the Government of rail, opposed to the £42.6bn earmarked for building the HS2 line.
Launching the report, Jim Steer, director of pro high-speed rail group Greengauge 21 and founding member of HSRILG, said: “To bring to life its contribution, we considered this question: what would be the most likely outcome should it be cancelled? Thinking this through it became clear to all of us that walking away from HS2 is a risk that Britain just cannot afford to take.”
Whilst Steve Scrimshaw, the UK rail systems managing director at engineering company Siemens, said: “The advantages of this cannot be overstated and this report points to some of those. That’s why we, along with other business leaders and major employers, fully support HS2 and call on Britain to push forward in developing a world-class high-speed network and take advantage of the benefits it will bring to our nation.”
The Greengauge 21 website states “Greengauge 21 has no vested interest and is not seeking to be part of any direct beneﬁciary (construction company, operating company etc.). The company seeks to act in the national and the public interest, by carrying out research and bringing forward evidence so that a full and open debate on high-speed rail can take place.”, but neglects to mention that Jim Steer is also founder of Steer Davies Gleave, one of the UKs largest transport consultancy firms which has been advising Network Rail on planning for HS2 and has produced parts of the latest strategic case for HS2.
Steer is also the President of Chartered Institute Logistics and Transport, who despite the widespread criticism of HS2 from independent sources have claimed that “On every measure, we judge the economic, social, demographic, commercial and environmental arguments for the line to be sound and secure.”
The HSRILG almost completely consists of companies which have been awarded or will almost certainly bid for HS2 contracts such as: Atkins, Alsthom, Siemens, CH2M Hill, Bechtel, Keolis, Parsons Brinckerhoff and Hitachi.
Stop HS2 Campaign Manager Joe Rukin said:
“Ever since the Eddington Report in 2006, it has been clear that HS2 has only been pushed forward by strong lobbying from advocates. Having people from the rail industry who will be after millions of pounds worth of contracts pulling out all the stops to support a rail project is as transparent as Cadbury saying Easter is a good thing.”
“The case for HS2 is on the ropes, so those with clear vested interests have no choice but to come up with ridiculous scare stories to bolster the case for HS2. They claim that if HS2 is cancelled £5bn will have been wasted, but only £1bn has been spent, so how does that work? The answer, like their claim that without HS2 only £270m would be spent on railways, is that it doesn’t work, it doesn’t hold water, it doesn’t make sense, but then again neither does HS2.”
“It is clear that the companies who will make money from HS2, and in many cases have already gone over-budget on design work, are desperate to get their slice of the cake. The jobs for the boys brigade, who have been proven to have dodgy reputations, consistently go over-budget, and claim they are independent when they are not, are the very last people anyone should be listening to in this debate.”