The government’s flagship £42.6 billion rail link was dealt a huge blow today as a Commons committee of MPs launched a withering attack on the scheme, claiming it was based on ‘fragile numbers, out-of-date data and assumptions which do not reflect real life’.
It came after 100 campaigners marched along the proposed route for HS2 in Staffordshire in protest.
In its assessment of the proposed 315-mile link which was released today, the Commons public accounts committee accused the Department for Transport of failing to present a ‘convincing strategic case’.
This week under-pressure Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin is leading a fightback as he conceded the government had got it ‘wrong’ focusing its justification on quicker journey times and not improved capacity.
Today the report published by the public accounts committee found there was no evidence HS2 would aid regional economies and would ‘suck’ even more activity into London instead.
It also warned an ‘unrealistic’ target of securing the necessary legislation by 2015 risked a repeat of costly errors such as the botched West Coast mainline franchise award. And it demanded an urgent explanation of how quickly the Department would plug significant gaps in the commercial and major project expertise in its teams.
Calling for more detailed evidence to back the case, the MPs on the committee led by Margaret Hodge concluded: “The Department has yet to demonstrate that this is the best way to spend £50 billion on rail investment in these constrained times.”
In Kings Bromley on Sunday villagers affected by the project marched more than 10 miles along the proposed line. They started off at Woodend Farm in Kings Bromley, which has been in Joy Fielding’s family for three generations and will be hit by both phases.