A couple of weeks ago, the 51M group went to court to try and get the Governement to release data on the West Coast Main Line. The Department for Transport have refused to release this information on grounds of “commercial confidentiality”, in spite of a survey last year showing that even in peak hours long distance trains on the WCML are half full.
Keeping information like this secret has not been to the benefit of the nation. Far from it: keeping this information secret led to the £40 million fiasco of the West Coast Main Line franchise process.
After the court case was heard, the Department for Transport announced they would no longer contest the 51M ‘optimised alternative’ to HS2 at the judicial review in December. The undisclosed information is likely to have weakened the case for building HS2.
A statement released by 51M said
“The Secretary of State resisted the local authorities’ application for disclosure of passenger loading data on the basis that it was confidential, but agreed a statement for the Court that the undisclosed information is the clearest evidence of capacity constraints, likely to have provided strong support to 51m’s argument that their alternative was capable of meeting all current capacity requirements.
“On this basis the local authorities will be able to pursue their argument in the Judicial Review that the consultation was unfair and that the data should have been made available to the public during the consultation.
“51m continues to believe that it is in the public interest to release this data and that the Department for transport should do so.”