At the risk of prompting yet another long letter from Alan Marshall, readers of the KWN should be aware of two reports about HS2 which were published last month on the same day that the government announced cutbacks and delays in Network Rail’s modernisation programme.
Publication of these reports from the government’s own Major Projects Authority was blocked by the current Conservative Transport Secretary in 2013 on the grounds that publication would “create political and presentational difficulties at a crucial point in the HS2 project’s development.” Both reports - which it has taken more than three years of campaigning to get published - gave the HS2 Phase 1 project an amber-red status, meaning “successful delivery of the project/programme is in doubt with major risks or issues apparent in a number of key areas. Urgent action is needed to ensure these are addressed, and whether resolution is feasible.”
Also published last month were the latest annual accounts for HS2 Ltd which show it has received taxpayers’ grant funding totalling £379 million in the past two financial years. In the year ended March 2015 HS2 Ltd, which is funded 100 per cent by the Department for Transport, spent £48.9 million employing 605 staff.
Some people persist in arguing that HS2 Phase 1 is a brilliant idea. Others, like our MP, argue that it’s not worth voting against. I have two simple questions: 1) why was publication of these reports suppressed for so long and only published on a day when other train headlines would distract attention and 2) is one of the reasons that Network Rail’s modernisation programme is in the mess that it’s in because huge budgets are being spent on HS2?
Richard Dickson, Barrow Road, Kenilworth