Today I wrote to the Secretary of State for Transport about the latest National Audit Office report on HS2 which indicated that the business case for HS2 was still not clear.
I have attached a copy of my letter below:
I spoke earlier in a Westminster Hall Debate on HS2 and the link to Heathrow.
Here is a copy from Hansard of what I said:
Chris White (Warwick and Leamington, Conservative)
I congratulate my hon. Friend on securing this debate. He talked about HS2 being phenomenally expensive, and he has mentioned that a number of assumptions have been made. Does he believe that it would be important and useful to have an independent review of HS2 and its usefulness to the economy?
Geoffrey Clifton-Brown (The Cotswolds, Conservative)
In light of what I am about to say about the alternative hub possibility, it may be that some form of review of the whole HS2 route would be a good idea. Perhaps my hon. Friend's concerns and my suggestions could be incorporated into one study.
In this Parliament alone we will be spending £750 million on HS2 before a spade enters the ground, with £529 million to be spent between 2012 and 2015, according to answers to my written parliamentary questions, Nos. 106148 and 106541. With the greatest humility, I say to the Minister that it is vital that we get the scheme right. It is no good commencing works only to realise at a later date that we could have done something better, because by that point it will be too late to change course. The UK has lagged behind our European counterparts in the construction of a high-speed rail project, but that presents us with an opportunity to take on board what has worked previously, and learn from mistakes made in other countries. There appears to be a lack of a strategic link between our aviation and rail policies. Indeed, as the Transport Committee in its recent report on high-speed rail stated:
"The development of what could emerge as separate strategies for rail and aviation again highlights the absence of an overall transport strategy: this is a lacuna which must be filled."
You can get a full transcript of the debate here: http://www.theyworkforyou.com/whall/?id=2012-07-17a.223.1&s=speaker%3A24959#g224.3
This week, I wrote in the Courier about my concerns around High Speed Rail 2, here is a copy of what I wrote:
"There has been growing concern in recent weeks about the state of the High Speed Rail 2 (HS2) project.
Last month Steve Gooding, Director General of the Domestic Group at the Department for Transport, stated that HS2 had been put on "amber/red" alert by the Major Projects Authority – a body which oversees all large-scale projects that are funded and delivered by central government.
This means that "the successful delivery of the project is in doubt, with major risks or issues apparent in a number of key areas [and urgent] action is needed to ensure that these are addressed and whether resolution is feasible".
I have called on the Government to publish this report by the Major Projects Authority so that we can all see what these risks are, but I also think we also need a pause to reflect on the merits of the scheme as a whole.
If even before a single metre of track has been laid on the ground, there is a significant risk that the project may fail, then we need to have a serious discussion whether we should be committing over £32 billion of public money into it.
During a time of national stringency, we need to get maximum value for money out of every penny that is being spent by government. Already the proposed benefits per pound spent on HS2 has been halved from £2.40 when it was originally announced to £1.20. Clearly there is confusion, even within supporters of the scheme, as to what the benefits will be and the only way that we can resolve this is with a full, independent review into HS2 - both the costs and the benefits.
So I will be continuing to put pressure on the Government to deliver all the facts on HS2 so that we can make an informed decision in the best interests of our communities in the months ahead. Now is the time for Ministers to pause and reflect before we commit taxpayer's money, and ensure we make the right choice."
I have asked a number of questions about High Speed Rail 2 to the Secretary of State for Transport, you can find them by clicking on the links below:
You can see all my written questions here
Like many in our community, I was most disappointed to see the Transport Secretary announce this week that she would be giving the go ahead for High Speed Rail 2 (HS2).
The more I have examined this issue, the closer I have looked at the business case and the longer I have considered the potential impact that it has on our area, the more convinced I am that this project is not right for Warwick and Leamington, nor for the country at large.
There is a great deal of talk about our Victorian railways and the need to build HS2 in order to modernise our infrastructure. But we mustn't forget that we are in the middle of our own 21st Century industrial revolution, one which isn't powered by coal and steam but by microchips and fibre optic cables.
So to invest £33 billion of public money, at a cost of £51m to each and every constituency, on one scheme which has a questionable evidence base, lacks a consensus not only amongst the public but amongst rail experts which will see hundreds of miles of our countryside irrevocably damaged, does not make sense – particularly when we face a time of national austerity and where there are many other projects which are potentially more worthwhile.
In the space of three years, the Department of Transport has gone from rejecting the need for a high speed rail line to enthusiastically supporting its development. I do not believe that there has been a proper consideration of this issue, and given the scale of the project in terms of cost and time, a full and independent commission should have been set up to ensure that we make a decision based on the best information possible.
That being said, the Government has now made a decision. But I will continue to oppose this scheme and ask it to reconsider. I will vote against the legislation when it comes before the House of Commons, whenever that may be.
This is the wrong decision, but I am still hopeful that if local people and campaigning organisations work together, we can still make a difference to the final outcome.
As you know the Government has now made the decision to go ahead with HS2.
This is disappointing as I believe that it is the wrong decision and I have been campaigning on this issue for many months.
I do not believe that HS2 is good value for money and will cause economic, environmental and social damage to communities across the country.
I have made clear that I will vote against the legislation on HS2 when it is put before the House, and I will continue to ask the Government to reconsider this decision in the interests of the country.
I appreciate that this issue causes deep concern for many residents, and I will continue to campaign on this issue right up to the vote and to mitigate the effects for our community as much as I can.
Chris White MP: Does my right hon. Friend work on trains when she is travelling around the country, and if she does, along with hundreds of thousands of others, does she not believe that that factor undermines a major plank of the business case for HS2?
Justine Greening: No, I do not. The fact the people rightly complain when they get delayed on a train and stuck in traffic shows intuitively that people place a huge value on their time, and rightly so. We use robust methods to value time in the business case, and they are absolutely correct.
http://www.theyworkforyou.com/debates/?id=2012-01-10b.23.0&s=speaker%3A24959#g41.5 ~ Link to the full discussion of HS2 Statement.
Thursday 13th October will see a debate take place in Parliament on High Speed Rail - this will give an opportunity for Members of Parliament on all sides to discuss this issue in more detail and I will be seeking to represent the views of constituents during the debate. Keep checking here for more information.
The last evidence session for the Transport Select Committee's enquiry into HS2 has now finished.
The Committee will now be creating a report and will provide its views on the scheme.
You can watch the evidence sessions or read the transcripts here: http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/transport-committee/inquiries/hsr1/
And I look forward to seeing the Committee's views made public in the next few months.
Last night I took part in the HS2 debate on BBC Coventry and Warwickshire.
If you want to listen to the debate it is currently on BBC iPlayer here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p00hfvlb/Shane_OConnor_The_HS2_debate/