Last year, Steve Baker asked the Secretary of State for Transport, during a Transport Select Committee oral evidence session, about why a FOI request about passenger loadings on the WCML had been refused, although similar figures about the GWR had been released. Justine Greening simply said she’d look into the matter, but has still not released the information.
This was just after the Financial Times had published details of an independently audited HS2AA survey into passenger loadings at Euston. This showed that in peak hours, the average passenger loading on long distance services was 56%.
The Transport Select Committee have now published the the report from these sessions “Counting the cost: financial scrutiny of the Department for Transport 2011–12”
Their conclusion states:
“Our scrutiny of the DfT’s annual report and the financial information it publishes reinforces our view that an overall strategy for transport is needed. The paucity of information about performance in the annual report is because there is no agreed way of measuring the department’s performance, except to tick off completed actions in the business plan. It might be thought that the various indicators chosen by the department are a way of measuring performance, but the DfT does no more than publish the bare data. It has not explained why the indicators matter or in which direction the Government would like them to go. Answering these questions would go a long way to providing the DfT with a strategy. We were pleased to see that the new Secretary of State saw the force in our argument and is considering the benefits of drawing up an overall strategy. We recommend that the DfT publish an overall strategy for transport, preferably in or alongside the next departmental annual report.”
Without an overall transport strategy, and without information about the current passenger loadings on the WCML, how can the public accept the Government’s view that building HS2 is the best way of spending £33 billion.