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Superhero struggles with an envelope

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David HigginsNext Monday in Leeds Civic Hall, HS2 chairman and infrastructure ‘superhero‘ David Higgins is expected to present his ‘analysis of the impact of the line north of Birmingham’.

Despite the huge übercontingency added into the budget last year, he is “struggling to keep [the project] within the spending envelope he has,” said one person briefed on the plans. (Doug Oakervee, the previous chairman, had said he was ‘not interested’ in any of the £14.4 billion contingency that the Treasury had insisted should be added.)

[HS2 chief to rule out changes in attempt to keep budget on track, Andrew Bounds, Gill Plimmer and Aliya Ram, FT, October 22, 2014 (paywall)]

Sir David will not address the budget but will remake the economic case for the line, insiders say.

[…] Several cities had wish lists for changes but their pleas have largely fallen on deaf ears.

[…] Martin Blaiklock, a consultant on infrastructure and energy project finance, said the extra capacity [supposedly provided by HS2] needed could be built more cheaply. “[HS2] is very high-risk. There may well be alternatives available. The public are not convinced as to benefit of HS2. It is a gravy train for consultants, involving banks, lawyers and government officials,” he said.

With £800 million apparently already spent, keeping HS2 on life support is likely to have increasing impacts on the road and rail networks. According to the Shadow transport secretary, a future government “might not have enough money to maintain new roads”.

[Mary Creagh MP, quoted in the Newcastle Journal, 20 Oct 2014]

There is an issue about roads, you can’t keep building them if you don’t have any budget to maintain them.

“So there is an issue about capital spending on roads and then maintenance spending on roads.”

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Written by beleben

October 23, 2014 at 10:11 am

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

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