Transport Ministers face new questions about cost of HS2

Published on Thursday, 04 October 2012 14:30
Posted by Scott Buckler

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin is facing a new raft of questions today as to whether his department's case for High Speed Rail 2 (HS2) stacks up, in the wake of the West Coast Main Line (WCML) franchise fiasco

Fundamental errors in calculations by Department for Transport officials caused the recently-appointed Secretary of State yesterday to abandon the award of the WCML franchise to FirstGroup. Concerns have now been renewed that the Government is proceeding with the HS2 project on the back of similarly-flawed assumptions and calculations.

Matthew Sinclair, Chief Executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, has today written to Mr McLoughlin outlining the questions that the Department for Transport must answer in order to prove that the cost benefit analysis for HS2 has been rigorous, robust and based on the most up-to-date information.

Mr Sinclair said:

"The serious errors made over the West Coast rail franchise have cost the taxpayer tens of millions of pounds and the whole process is now rightly going to have to start from scratch. So when the Government is intent on spending £32 billion of our money on a project like HS2, we need to be absolutely certain that the go-ahead is not given on the back of similarly flawed calculations, assumptions and projections.

"Yet there are serious questions about the basis on which the Government is proceeding with HS2. Why has the Department for Transport assumed that no business traveller does work on a train? And why is an outdated forecasting model being used to project demand?

"Unless ministers can give credible answers to these and a number of other questions I have posed, taxpayers will have every right to remain anxious that their money is being squandered on a white elephant."

Source: ©Taxpayers Alliance

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