HS2 report 31 Dec 2009

DEMOCRACY UNDERMINED BY HIGH SPEED RAIL REPORT

The Government’s delay in publishing the long awaited report on a new north-south high speed rail link will undermine public debate on transport in the run up to a general election.

That’s the fear raised by the RAC Foundation as the Government receives the conclusions of High Speed 2 (HS2) – the company set-up to establish the case for a new line between London and Birmingham and beyond. 

The transport secretary Lord Adonis has said he will not make the report’s finding’s public until the end of March, three months after it lands on his desk.

Professor Stephen Glaister of the RAC Foundation said: 

“We are in the middle of a public funding crisis, not least in the transport arena, yet we have support for a multi-billion pound high-speed rail scheme from all three main political parties. But perversely Labour is now the only party with access to the definitive report on whether there is actually an environmental and economic case for the line.”

“In the interests of democracy and getting the best value for money for taxpayers the results need to be made public now. Why should there be any delay, especially with a general election just around the corner? Politicians must not be allowed to campaign on high speed rail in ignorance of the facts.” 

“If HS2 concludes a high speed line is the best way of using vast sums of cash then so be it. If not, then we need to know straight away so the limited funds that are available can be allocated to transport schemes which will offer better value for money and benefit people across the whole of the country, not just along a single, narrow corridor.”

HS2 was incorporated in January 2009. Its remit was to consider the case for new high speed rail services between London and Scotland. In the first instance it was asked to focus on where existing capacity if likely to be most constrained in the future – between London and the West Midlands. 

By the end of 2009 it was due to submit a report to Government with a preferred route, and a business case, including environmental, social and economic assessments.

By the Government’s own assessment, investment will fall from 3.1 percent of GDP this financial year to 1.3 percent by 2013. 

ENDS

Contact: Philip Gomm – Head of External Communications – 07711 776448

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