The situation around the review into HS2 – that was leaked and still hasn't been officially released – has grown more acerbic and strange, thanks to the deputy chair of the review committee deciding to go rogue and release his own conclusions. And boy are they negative.
Deputy chair Lord Berkeley is famously a member of the anti-HS2 camp, and he's cemented that status and left a handprint in it for posterity by declaring the entire concept of the line's operation to be entirely misleading. HS2 Ltd's figures are based on the assumption it will run up to 18 trains an hour, despite the fact that the best other countries, more experienced in the ways of high-speed trains can manage, is 14 per hour. This means all of HS2's cost-to-benefit calculations are based on fiddled numbers that HS2 Ltd is choosing to pretend are achievable, leading to parliament being "seriously misled" about the line's economics.
The lord also pulled some new cost estimates out of his red and gold stockings, claiming that an extremely precise independent analysis he's privy to has now priced the build at a staggering £107.92bn. In short, the money, or at least some of it, would be better spent within the Northern Powerhouse and Midlands Connect regions, but the official report is unlikely to say anything of the sort, as Berkeley says he wasn't allowed to add his dissenting opinions or amendments to the draft review. Hence this independent broadside. [Dissenting Report [PDF] via Guardian]
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