The Department for Transport (DfT) has rejected claims made by the chair of the Treasury Select Committee about the reliability of High Speed 2 (HS2) demand forecasts.
In a letter to transport secretary Chris Grayling, committee chair Andrew Tyrie questioned the rise in the projected benefit-to-cost ratio – up to 2.7, which would fall to 1.1 without the additional demand increase – in the government’s latest economic business case for the £55bn HS2 project, published in November.
He claimed that without credible evidence for the increase, HS2 “is scarcely worth the candle,” adding: “So, the credibility of this sharp rise in forecast demand is crucial to the whole HS2 project.”
He added: “One of the causes has been a much more rapid growth in passenger demand between 2011 and 2014 than predicted by HS2 Ltd. That the forecasting model used by HS2 Ltd failed to provide a reasonably accurate prediction for four years’ worth of growth is a serious concern.”
The Department for Transport stressed that the latest demand estimate increased due to a change in the way it is forecast.
“HS2 is an ambitious project that will carry over 300,000 people a day, improving connections between our great cities, generating jobs, and helping us build an economy that works for all,” said a DfT spokesperson.
“We keep our modelling under constant review and our analysis has repeatedly shown HS2 will be high value for money and deliver more than £2 of benefits for every £1 invested.
“The economic benefit of HS2 has been recognised by MPs of all parties and is strongly supported by Northern and Midlands cities.”