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Spinning in different ways

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On 12 November 2019 the Financial Times reported that a leaked ‘early draft’ of the Oakervee review of HS2 had recommended that the UK government should proceed with the full high speed network from London to Leeds and Manchester, despite the potential for further cost increases.

Financial Times story on a leaked version of the Oakervee HS2 report, 12 Nov 2019

But on 19 January 2020, the newspaper published content apparently leaked from a later ‘draft’ of the report, in which only ‘lukewarm’ support was offered for the scheme.

Financial Times story on a leaked version of the Oakervee HS2 report, 19 Jan 2020

[Financial Times, 19 Jan 2020][…]

The review led by Doug Oakervee, a former chairman of HS2, also recommends that work on phase 2b of the project from the West Midlands to Manchester and Leeds be paused for six months for a study into whether it could comprise a mix of conventional and high speed lines instead.

“On balance”, it says that ministers should proceed with the 250mph railway, which would stretch from London’s Euston station to Birmingham in its first phase and then to Leeds and Manchester by 2040, seven years later than the original target. But although the final draft of the review recommends that the project should proceed, this is subject to “a number of qualifications,” it says.

“Further work” is needed to assess the scheme’s impacts on regional growth and it is “hard” to say what economic benefits will result from building it. HS2 would need to be accompanied by investment in local transport and “transport investment alone will not ‘rebalance’ the UK economy,” it adds.

On BBC Radio 4’s World At One (20 January 2020), Oakervee panel member Professor Tony Travers described the report as being in ‘final draft’ form. However, on the same channel’s ‘PM’ show a few hours later, another Oakervee panel member, Andrew Sentance, said he was surprised to hear it described as a ‘draft report’.

twitter, @omrgriffiths on comments made by Andrew Sentance on Radio 4 'PM'

Mr Sentance then popped up on the 7pm Channel 4 News to claim “various people in government” were ‘spinning in different ways’.

Written by beleben

January 21, 2020 at 11:44 am

Posted in HS2, Politics

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