The all-party Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has published a withering report on the Government’s £50 billion plan to build a high speed rail link from London to Manchester and Leeds, via Birmingham.

Criticisms include claims that the Department of Transport has based its decisions on questionable forecasts of future use of rail travel for business, and equally questionable ten-year old assumptions that business types would pay a premium for shorter journey times because “they could not work on trains using modern technology”. (such as mobile phones, perhaps?)

Other concerns were that the line would suck jobs down to London rather than boost employment in the North, that the £50 billion estimate did not include any contingency or impact costs of construction on small business, that the taxpayers money could be better spent on improving other parts of the rail network and benefit many more people and that the figure given was likely to spiral upwards as benefits spiralled downwards.

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