The Department for Transport’s response to the Transport Select Committee report “High Speed Rail: on track?” was published today, 14th February. The Transport Select Committee’s original report was published in December 2013, after they had looked in detail at a widely criticised £250,000 KPMG report, which had been published to bolster the case for HS2: a FOI request had revealed that numerous areas, including Cornwall and Devon, will find their economies shrink as a result of HS2.
The Transport Select Committee made a number of recommendations, including that the DfT did not use their estimated cost of £50bn, but instead a reduced figure of £28billion, that David Higgins, the incoming CEO, looked into building the railway from north to south, that central Government support local authorities in developing economic strategies around HS2, and on the Government’s use of the KPMG and other research.
Penny Gaines, chair of Stop HS2 said
“When the Department for Transport claims that the KPMG report is intuitively sound, they simply mean it’s given them the answer they want. They call the results credible, but in realty, numerous economists have criticised the report and its methodology. What’s worse is that the hidden figures from the analysis show that Cornwall, Devon and numerous other places are expected to find their economies shrink, and in spite of that the government are pushing ahead with HS2.
“The Transport Select Committee ask for support from central government for local authorities to develop plans around the HS2 project, but in their response, the government make it clear it’s up to the local authorities to use their own resources. This isn’t just for the regions around the station, but there have been clear signs that the Department for Transport that they expect local councils to fund parts of the HS2 development.”
Joe Rukin, campaign manager for Stop HS2 said
“”When the Transport Select Committee delivered their report, they effectively told the Government to ‘spin harder’ to promote HS2. Today the Government has responded by saying they will spin harder, but there is a limit to how far they can stretch things. In their response, the Government admit that the costs have gone up, they can’t say costs will go down and they are keeping their options open for further cost increases.”
Penny Gaines added,
“There are huge concerns across the country that if HS2 opens, existing rail users will find their services get worse, just as has happened for the conventional railways in Kent with the opening of HS1. It is merely an aim of the government to keep services at the same levels, but with the HS2 case relying on huge rail network savings, we think that if HS2 goes ahead, many people will find huge cuts in the rail services they need.”