Late HS1 report sparks concern
Results could impact on HS2 plans
ANTI-HS2 campaigners are ‘deeply concerned’ that the Department for Transport (DfT) may have buried a report which could have ‘undermined’ the case for the high speed rail project.
The Public Accounts Committee, a parliamentary select committee ensuring government expenditures are effective and honest, published a report into the sell-off of HS1, on January 20.
They state it was ‘unacceptable’ that DfT buried a report that would have undermined the case for HS2, which shows that the costs of HS1 significantly outweighed the economic benefits, as the information came two years later than expected.
The report highlights concerns that the delay prevented the “scrutiny of other projects such as High Speed 2”.
Meg Hillier MP, Chair of the committee, said: “It is deeply concerning that work towards HS2 should have progressed without full and detailed consideration of HS1.
“The Government’s evaluation of HS1, produced at the urging of this committee, could and arguably should have been a key piece of evidence in scrutinising plans for HS2.
“Instead it arrived two years late, since when the Government has claimed benefits arising from HS1 that cannot be measured by its own methodology. It is simply not good enough.”
The DfT report states that even though HS1 was privatised for more than was expected, it will still represent a loss to the taxpayer of £5.9bn over 60 years.
In October, the National Audit Office said the HS1 project had produced a benefit cost ratio of just 0.53, meaning for every pound spent on the project, 47p had been thrown away.
The report outlines concerns that evidence provided by the department implies that its own methodology, which it uses to justify new investments such as High Speed 2, is inadequate.
The DfT claimed the delay was down to the complexity of the work but the committee argues that publishing the evaluation was clearly not a priority due to the “unfavourable result it contained”.
Joe Rukin, Stop HS2 campaign manager, thinks the benefits for HS1 and HS2 are ‘invented’.
He said: “From the start we have seen nothing but prevarication, obfuscation and delay from the Department for Transport when it comes to publishing reports which tell the truth about projects like HS1 and HS2.
“It is unacceptable
simply that MPs will be asked again to vote on HS2 whilst two years of reports from the Major Projects Authority which have rated the project as being in significant danger of failing are kept from them.”
DfT said the case for HS2 is “absolutely clear”.
A spokesman added: “The economic benefit has been recognised by MPs of all parties who voted strongly in favour of HS2 at the second reading of the hybrid Bill, and the Transport Select Committee has been clear the scheme is the only practical way to significantly increase rail capacity.
“It will improve connectivity, free up space on our crowded rail network, promote regeneration, boost skills and generate thousands of jobs.”
n SCRUTINY: MP Meg Hillier chair of the Public Accounts Committee