Campaigners against HS2 feel vindicated today by the shambles of the WCML bidding process which has revealed “significant technical flaws”, which we believe are dwarfed by the same sort of errors which have dogged the HS2 process from the start.
Evidence of the flaws in the Department for Transport’s approach emerged while officials were undertaking evidence-gathering in preparation for legal proceedings, challenging the award of the franchise. Mistakes were made in the way in which inflation and passenger numbers were taken into account, in relation to risk. An estimated £40m will be reimbursed to the bidders, covering the costs of their original franchise bids. The legal challenge from Virgin into the WCML franchise process was due to be heard before the ones on HS2, as it would have had to be done before the change in franchisee. The Government have now decided not to contest the Judicial Review from Virgin, whilst the HS2 ones are still scheduled for December the 3rd. Several DfT staff have been suspended, pending review.
Joe Rukin campaign coordinator for Stop HS2 said;
“This revelation, whilst not unexpected, is fantastic news for the Stop HS2 campaign. We have been saying since the start that the passenger forecast which have been fabricated purely to support the case for HS2 are a work of pure fiction. Todays news proves this as it may not be the same people who have fiddled the figures for the West Coast Mainline, but they have been using the same flawed methodologies to try and justify the case for HS2. There are currently 45,000 people per day coming into Euston, but the DfT and HS2 Ltd have been saying that magically this will somehow get up to 146,000. It is and has always been pure fantasy.”
“The mistake which has been revealed today has cost the taxpayer £40m, but HS2 if it were to go ahead with the same completely flawed methodologies behind it would cost £33bn. The Government need to urgently review HS2 and stop this disaster before it happens. We are confident that as the DfT prepare for the legal challenges on HS2 that they will find the same sorts of mistakes are endemic throughout the case for HS2. There is rapidly becoming only one option for HS2, to cancel the project as it stands, go back to the drawing board and come up with a genuine strategy for transport and infrastructure.”
Stop HS2 chair, Penny Gaines said;
“Last month First Group told the TSC that the figures they used on their bid correlated with the passenger projections for HS2. The Government have now been forced to admit that these projections are completely flawed in relation to the WCML, so it is only a matter of time before they will be forced to admit they are flawed in relation to HS2. We have known the figures for HS2 haven’t stacked up from the start and now it is time for the Government to admit it too before more taxpayers money is squandered.”