High speed rail project would mean ‘more trains stop at Milton Keynes’


A new report published today (Wednesday) says a controversial high speed railway could mean up to 26 extra trains stop every day in Milton Keynes.

Analysis by accountancy and business advisor KPMG, working on behalf of the railway project, follows a battering given to the High Speed 2 (HS2) plan this week by Westminster watchdogs the Committee of Public Accounts.

The KPMG report insists the multi-billion pound project, which would slice its way through rural Buckinghamshire on its way from London to the north, would ease pressure on vital and currently crammed commuter routes.

KPMG, which has an office in Central Milton Keynes, insists HS2 could give the UK economy a £15billion annual boost and pay for itself in short order.

Richard Threlfall, KPMG’s head for infrastructure, building and construction said: “There have been repeated calls for a business case for the HS2 scheme focused on jobs, productivity and growth.

“KPMG’s analysis forms a key part of that business case, setting out the economic impact across the country of the HS2 scheme. It shows beyond reasonable doubt that HS2 brings net benefits to the country of many times the scheme’s cost. It shows the UK will be £15 billion a year better off with HS2, recovering the cost of the scheme within just a few years.

“Our analysis also shows that HS2 will significantly help counter the corrosive effects on our country of the widening north-south divide. There has been a long-running debate about “who wins” from HS2, the north or the south? The answer is both.”

The KPMG report reckons the HS2 project will help more people to work on more trains, which become “mobile offices”, adding value to the economy that way.

The Committee of Public Accounts has taken a different view.

The chairman of the committee, Margaret Hodge MP, said: “It has not yet demonstrated that this is the best way to spend £50 billion on rail investment in these constrained times, and that the improved connectivity will promote growth in the regions rather than sucking even more activity into London.

“The pattern so far has been for costs to spiral - from more than £16 billion to £21 billion plus for phase one – and the estimated benefits to dwindle.”

The Department for Transport announced its decision to proceed with HS2 in January 2012 but it will be some years yet before the project begins.