Reaction to the NAO report

On Thursday, the National Audit office issued a report on HS2, saying

“In an early examination of progress by the Department for Transport in planning for the High Speed 2 rail network, the National Audit Office has expressed reservations about the Department’s business case. In particular, in presenting its case for investment in the project, the Department is said to have poorly articulated the strategic need for a transformation in rail capacity and how High Speed 2 will help generate regional economic growth.”

On Newsnight, David Grossman reveals the flaws in HS2 that led to the National Audit Office casting doubts on the scheme. The piece was followed by an interview with Rail Minister, Simon Burns.

“These men appear to be working on a train!”…Newsnight reveals flaws with HS2

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8 comments to “Reaction to the NAO report”
  1. Simon Burns says he doesn’t recognise the 3 billion funding gap the nao uncovered
    Is he saying that there is no gap and the nao is incompetent?

    • @John: Simon Burns says he doesn’t recognise the 3 billion funding gap the nao uncovered
      Is he saying that there is no gap and the nao is incompetent?

      The NAO report, the MPA report, the work done by HS2Ltd on behalf of DfT are all predictions, guestimates if you like – yes, they are informed predictions but predictions none the less.

      That’s what you have to do when something is in the future, predict and plan accordingly

      Simon Burns is saying he doesn’t agree with the NAO’s predictions

      • Peter Davidson says:
        May 27, 2013 at 9:38 am

        My point is that Mr Burns as custodian of our money should provide detailed answers to the nao’s statement and not just a glib response

      • Nobody would disagree that there is a significant degree of cost estimation when working with a project of this size, but that is not the point.

        The £ 3.3 bn shortfall is the difference in the peak 4 years of phase 1 construction between capital budgets ( rolled forward at current levels ) and the “DEPARTMENT’S FORECAST CAPITAL SPENDING”. The Department’s, not anyone else’s ! So if Simon Burns doesn’t recognise the shortfall based on his own department’s estimations then he jolly well should.

        McLoughlin recognises the shortfall but isn’t worried. The extra will come out of “general taxation”. That’s OK then !

        I thoroughly recommend the National Audit Office report. They are a respected independent body and the FT describes their report as thorough and well constructed. The FT also thinks the government should spend its limited financial firepower in better ways. The report is available online and the Executive Summary will suffice. Other interesting points from the NAO report :

        * Lack of evidence put forward to justify the wider economic benefits that have been claimed. We know the phrase “engine for growth” is little more than a PR soundbite.
        * Two previous errors found in the modelling, which resulted in earlier BCR being overstated.. One double counted some benefits , one miscalculated passenger growth. How many more are there ?
        * Limited evidence that alternative ways of increasing capacity have been properly evaluated.
        * Costs ignore VAT, a la Olympics, but HS2 Ltd may not be able to claim back its input VAT.

        I accept that this last point is largely left hand, right hand but I can’t wait to see the headlines when the “cost” of HS2 suddenly jumps again and ministers look like right chumps.

  2. At last the telegraph has given some of the details of what I could envisage will happen on the roads should HS2 be built.I do just mean some
    as they state the case of 7 bridges needing to be demolished and re-built taking 8 yrs and also affecting the over ground rail service.
    In spite of the fact they will destroy huge areas of countryside ,all along the route they will be affecting both country lanes and main roads.
    these are vital for people to get to work and the holdups don’t bear thinking about.

    • Elaine they could not give a dam about anybody getting about or affecting there lives .with all the facts now coming out from behind closed doors they still continue with this project no what anyone finds out .they will tell you just shut up we no best and let us continue spending your money give us your homes and land for nothing so our rich friends can get to London more quickly and make them more rich with giving them contrats to build this waist .they could not care about giving people in the north jobs ,if they were they would be spending more of our taxes up there now to help give them jobs now not in thirty years time ,when who knows what the world be like then with change happening so quickly trains will be old and be closed down like in the 60s with flying cars ,cars can drive them selves ,computers talking to each other who needs trains so come on scrap this project now

    • Even more concerning within that same article is the news that the allegation that the Minister and Senior Civil servant have misled parliament and hidden the truth about matters including noise pollution which will be far worse (on their figures) and likely even more so because their own figures have already been attenuated/are flawed and should be doubted I believe.
      A ‘representative of DFT have refuted these allegations (they would wouldnt they) on behalf of the Minister and Civil Servant which is convenient ploy as the individuals are not personally bound or accountable to/ for the response be it true or not.
      These questions need to be asked openly to the Minister in Parliament.

      The sound pollution is to be horrific and almost non stop (48 trains an hour at such speed and with doppler shift it will become essentially constant.
      Today I made requests to HS2 ltd regarding a information (in respect of the draft ES) for the nominated authorship of the report, signing off of the report and who was the lead environmentalist and for a direct link or emailed file of the methodology regarding the ‘draft’ enviromental report .
      I was told that I could wait 20 working days for a response.
      It makes the notion of the noise being of no major significance (over background) as suggested in the DES in the Chilterns, the Colne Valley viaduct and Wendover viaduct an outrageous deception.
      The matter of noise in the Chilterns was an issue raised in Parliamentary discussions which were met with the same assurances.

      “True harm of HS2 ‘hidden by minister’
      Simon Burns, the transport minister, and his top civil servant have been accused of misleading Parliament and campaign groups in an effort to boost the controversial HS2 rail scheme.”

      The documents include “sound contour maps” showing that, along much of the route, thousands more people than predicted will suffer noise from the new high-speed trains. The new maps show that a thousand homes near a one-mile stretch of the line at Aylesbury alone, for instance, will be affected by “potentially significant” noise from the line. About 2,400 people live in these properties.
      The noise-blighted areas in Aylesbury and many other places are bigger than on a previous noise map issued in February 2011. In London, however, longer tunnels will reduce the noise footprint.
      The documents, draft “environmental statements” for HS2, were slipped out the same day last week as a damning National Audit Office report into the project, and have so far gone almost unnoticed.
      A spokesman for the Department for Transport said: “It is entirely incorrect to suggest that Simon Burns or the Permanent Secretary have misled Parliament or anyone else.
      From http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/road-and-rail-transport/10066219/True-harm-of-HS2-hidden-by-minister.html

  3. Housing and power station replacement are more urgently required for the UK.
    The Times warns of the coming personal debt credit crunch so lower prices are needed not luxuries.
    Work and Jobs are required outside the HS2 Y land grab.
    MPs do not want to recognise realities and democratic requests these days as Cameron/Clegg with Osborne supported by Miliband and Adonis impose their self interests on thousands of doubters as bright and educated and skilful as these few priviledged people.
    Cannot afford to be left behind is contradictory to the deficit reduction which Osborne and Burns dismiss.
    Lack of belief is common to both MPs and the wider population hence the focus on protests in despair.
    Parliament is out of its competence zone when a self serving small group of inexperienced people and a few engineers bulldoze the process ahead of adequate options with less land take and disruption.
    Motorways and all roads lack the capacities for much wider daily needs for the circa 70million this decade.
    If MPs do not get a grip of themselves and the nations long era ahead of lack of capital headroom the UK is in for a mighty fall.
    Projects are awaiting the upswing which is not going to occur.
    The Coalition and the alternatives are political groups not business and financing groups.
    With 4 of the highest benefits zones in the NW and NE what is needed is to establish the off the coast shale projects there and use that income and taxes for the development across the NE and NW to offset the need to bludge London and the South East more.
    The Coalition has failed to generate improvements at a rate with commercial investments and is gifting funds to stimulate some businesses and modest projects. The mega-rail projects are an indulgence for the occasional journeys of some but out of reach for the million of rail commuters and feight movements. HS2 does NOT provide the commuter and freight capacities that cannot be achieved by some medium scale works to ECML, MML and WCML. Merge HS2 into Network Rail and live within the UKs sustainable needs please.

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