HS2 un­der at­tack in new re­port

Project cost in spot­light

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - NEWS - By Jack Abell jack.abell@trin­i­tymir­ror.com

A RE­PORT has been pub­lished by the House of Com­mons pub­lic ac­counts com­mit­tee that crit­i­cises HS2.

The re­port, en­ti­tled Lessons Learned from Ma­jor Rail In­fra­struc­ture Pro­grammes, looks at a num­ber of rail projects, in­clud­ing HS2.

It is crit­i­cal of the gov­ern­ment for mak­ing de­ci­sions on trans­port with­out a long-term strat­egy in place and of the large con­tin­gency for HS2 which could hide mount­ing costs.

The re­port says: “This fund­ing in­cludes a gen­er­ous con­tin­gency and we are con­cerned that, with­out ap­pro­pri­ate con­trols, it could be used to mask cost in­creases.”

Penny Gaines, chair­man of Stop HS2, said: “As the re­port points out, there is al­ready a lot of spend­ing on HS2 for a project that is a long way off Royal As­sent.

“The cur­rent spend­ing on HS2 won’t be made pub­lic un­til after the gen­eral elec­tion, and even the most op­ti­mistic Depart­ment for Trans­port es­ti­mate says Royal As­sent won’t hap­pen un­til at least De­cem­ber 2016.

“With nu­mer­ous north­ern coun­cils say­ing bet­ter east-west links in the north, such as the pro­posed HS3, are a high pri­or­ity, one thing is clear. HS2 should be can­celled im­me­di­ately, at a sav­ing to the tax­payer of £50bn, and the real trans­port pri­or­i­ties for the coun­try looked at.”

MP Mar­garet Hodge, chair­man of the com­mit­tee of pub­lic ac­counts, said: “We are scep­ti­cal about whether the gov­ern­ment can de­liver value for money for the tax­payer on HS2.

“The over­all fund­ing en­ve­lope of £50bn in­cludes a gen­er­ous con­tin­gency, and we are con­cerned that this will sim­ply be used to mask cost over­spends, rather than valid calls on con­tin­gency funds.

“The con­tin­gency in­cludes pro­vi­sion for likely in­fla­tion based on the Trea­sury’s guid­ance on the rates to ap­ply, but con­struc­tion costs can in­crease more quickly than gen­eral in­fla­tion.”

Turn to pages 22 and 23 for our re­port on MPs vis­it­ing Bucks last week to see how HS2 will im­pact on the Chilterns.

Con­trib­uted

‘AMAZ­ING’:

Rap star Mikar-the-Vi­par, aka Michael Ka­mara

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