Skeptical Public Accounts Committee critical of HS2 value for money

A report which is highly critical of HS2 has today [16th January 2015] been published by the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee.

The report “Lessons learned from major rail infrastructure programmes” looked at a number of rail projects including the proposed HS2 and HS3.

It was critical of the Government for making decisions on transport without a long term strategy in place and of the large contingency for HS2 which could hide cost overruns.

Commenting on the contingency the report says “this funding includes a generous contingency and we are concerned that, without appropriate controls, it could be used to mask cost increases.”

Penny Gaines, chair of Stop HS2 said,
“When David Higgins was asked to reduce costs, he failed to find any, and in fact to keep to the £50bn budget, he dropped the link to HS1. There are huge question marks over the current costs for Euston, the Heathrow spur has been on pause for years, and we fully expect other holes in the budget to appear. The Government has already washed its hands of the costs of developments around the stations, even though as today’s report points out HS1 has done nothing to regenerate the area around Ebbsfleet.

“As the report points out there is already a lot of spending on HS2 for a project that is a long way off Royal Assent. The current spending on HS2 won’t be made public until after the General Election. And even the most optimistic Department for Transport estimate says Royal Assent won’t happen until at least December 2016.

“With numerous Northern councils leaders saying better east-west links in the north, such as the proposed HS3, are a higher priority, one thing is clear. HS2 should be cancelled immediately, at a saving to the taxpayer of £50bn and the real transport priorities for the country looked at.

Joe Rukin, campaign manager for Stop HS2 said
“When you have the chair of HS2 Ltd thanking a nine year old for spotting bad maths, it really is time to throw in the towel on this gargantuan vanity project. Over the last five years the costs for HS2 have kept going up, and with the official estimates still being based on 2011 prices the can only continue to spiral.”

“This week at the Commons HS2 Committee, HS2 Ltd have admitted that parts of the route where there are significant engineering constraints have not been designed yet, so how they can have been accurately costed is beyond me. When these designs are done properly, the costs will certainly go up, but HS2 want to do this work after the Hybrid Bill has been passed, when it will be too late for anyone to stop this white elephant trampling through the countryside. It is time for the politicians to think again, and it is certain HS2 will be a big issue at the General Election.”

The Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, Chair of the Committee of Public Accounts, today said:
“Investment in major rail infrastructure programmes takes a long time and costs a lot of money. It is therefore hugely important to ask the right questions and make properly informed judgements on priorities. Yet the Government takes decisions without a clear strategic plan.

“For instance, the Government recently announced proposals for High Speed 3. It did not carry out an assessment of High Speed 3 before it gave the go-ahead to High Speed 2 and it therefore did not test whether improved connectivity in the North was a greater priority.”

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  1. Pingback: STOP HS2 | MPs call for a referendum on paying for HS2

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