A long way to go
The Department for Transport has a long way to go to prove that it is being more effective in realising benefits from major rail investment programmes, according to the Commons Public Accounts Committee.
[PAC, 16 January 2015]
The Department still lacks a clear strategic plan for the rail network according to the Public Accounts Committee’s, published on Friday 16 January 2015.
The Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, Chair of the Committee of Public Accounts, today said:
“Investment in major rail infrastructure programmes takes a long time and costs a lot of money. It is therefore hugely important to ask the right questions and make properly informed judgements on priorities. Yet the Government takes decisions without a clear strategic plan.
For instance, the Government recently announced proposals for High Speed 3. It did not carry out an assessment of High Speed 3 before it gave the go-ahead to High Speed 2 and it therefore did not test whether improved connectivity in the North was a greater priority.
The Department has still to publish proposals for how Scotland will benefit from High Speed 2, including whether the route will be extended into Scotland.
The Department should set out a long term strategy covering the next 30 years for transport infrastructure in the UK, and use this strategy to inform decisions about investment priorities and specific investment decisions.
We are sceptical about whether the Department can deliver value for money for the taxpayer on High Speed 2. The overall funding envelope of £50 billion includes a generous contingency, and we are concerned that this will simply be used to mask cost overspends, rather than valid calls on contingency funds.
The contingency includes provision for likely inflation based on the Treasury’s guidance on the rates to apply, but construction costs can increase more quickly than general inflation.
Furthermore, David Higgins, the Chair of HS2 Limited, had said in announcing HS3 that he believed both HS2 and 3 could be built at the same time but the Department has not yet properly considered the impact of this on construction capacity, capability and costs. […]