Treasury committee chair calls into question the government's HS2 figures

Oliver Gill
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Andrew Tyrie has fielded a list of questions to transport secretary Chris Grayling

The reliability of the HS2 passenger demand figures have been called into question by the chairman of the treasury select committee.

Andrew Tyrie, who has previously questioned the economic justification for HS2, has taken aim at government numbers in letter to transport secretary Chris Grayling.

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Tyrie said the department for transport (DfT) needed to justify “why the latest projection for growth in demand will be any more reliable than its predecessor.”

He added: “Over the last seven years we’ve had six of these – each different.

“The department claims that it has been underestimating the growth in passenger demand in support of the economic case for HS2.”

Changes in passenger demand are the single largest driver of boosting the business case for HS2. Whereas in November 2015, plans presented concluded a 2.2 benefit cost ratio, this has risen to as much as 2.7 in the latest government analysis.

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“Without this latest data, the business case suggests that the project will deliver low value for money, according to the Department’s own guidance. In other words, HS2 would scarcely be worth the candle,” said Tyrie.

Grayling and Prime Minister Theresa May have thrown their weight behind the £55.7bn HS2 project to link London with regional hubs.

In a letter to Tyrie in October last year the transport minister emphasised the benefit cost ratio of 2.2 was in the DfT’s “‘high’ value for money category”.

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