The National Audit Office (NAO) has warned that the benefits of the HS2 high-speed rail project on the economy are unclear.
The NAO said in a report that it had “reservations” about how the London-to-Birmingham link would deliver growth, adding that the project had an estimated £3.3bn funding gap. However, Patrick McLoughlin the Transport Secretary said the NAO’s conclusions were based on old data. Labour said the report was a “worrying wake-up call” for the government.
The NAO said it had “reservations about the business case” and said the timetable for the planning phase of the project – with work due to start in 2016-17 – was “challenging”.
The report, published on 16th May, said: “In particular, in presenting its case for investment in the project, the Department of Transport (DfT) has poorly articulated the strategic need for a transformation in rail capacity and how High Speed 2 will help generate regional economic growth.”
The department’s “methodology for appraising the project puts a high emphasis on journey-time savings, from faster and more reliable journeys, but the relationship between these savings and the strategic reasons for doing the project, such as rebalancing regional economies, is unclear”.
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