THE business case for High Speed Rail 2 (HS2) has been rocked today, with the publication of a report which raises serious questions about the research which has gone into the project.
A report by the National Audit Office (NAO) also found errors in the government's case and said there is a "lack of clarity" around the Department for Transports objectives, it also found a £3.3bn 'black hole' in the budget.
Amongst the most crushing findings for the Government are that the NAO found that "the business case provides little supporting evidence to prove that a high?speed line will help to rebalance the economy by supporting regional growth" - one of key reasons for justifying HS2.
The report also sheds doubt on journey-time savings used to justify the building of the line, saying that the relationship between the savings and the strategic reasons for doing the project, such as rebalancing regional economies, is "unclear".
Amyas Morse, head of the National Audit Office, said today: "It’s too early in the High Speed 2 programme to conclude on the likelihood of its achieving value for money. Our concern at this point is the lack of clarity around the department’s objectives.
"The strategic case for the network should be better developed at this stage of the programme. It is intended to demonstrate the need for the line but so far presents limited evidence on forecast passenger demand and expected capacity shortages on existing lines. It is also unclear how High Speed 2 will transform regional economies by delivering jobs and growth.
"The Department is trying against a challenging timetable to strengthen its evidence and analysis, which at present provide a weak foundation for securing and demonstrating success in the programme in future."
The National Audit Office scrutinises public spending for Parliament and is independent of government.The Public Accounts Committee will discuss the findings of the report on June 26.
Keri Brennan from Hillingdon Against HS2 said: "This report shows to the world that HS2 is and has been flawed from the start, with only those who stand to gain from HS2 related jobs driving the project forward. "Everyone we have met who has had contact with HS2 has been shocked by their cavalier, arrogant, careless and reckless approach to the project.
"This NAO report shows that view is correct to the very heart of the project. The people that need to pay attention are MPs from every constituency in the country. If they still support HS2 after this damming report then the £50 billion plus, wasted on a vanity project at a time of poverty and austerity will be on their conscience."