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High Speed Rail HS2, £111bn contract fraud, party kickbacks

 
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Whitehall_Bin_Men
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 30, 2017 10:46 am    Post subject: High Speed Rail HS2, £111bn contract fraud, party kickbacks Reply with quote

Chris Grayling accused of ‘hiding’ details of HS2 budgets
https://inews.co.uk/essentials/news/uk/chris-grayling-accused-hiding-d etails-hs2-budgets/

Dean Kirby 2 days Friday July 28th 2017
Chris Grayling has been accused of “hiding” details of the budgets and timescales for HS2 from an official document amid rising concerns about the cost of the project.

The 196-page Development Agreement between the Transport Secretary and HS2 Ltd drawn up in 2014 and updated earlier this month sets out how the project will be managed and delivered.

But key pages in the document including the “baseline delivery schedule” and the “cost model” for the first phase of the scheme have been redacted, along with an annex of “budget envelopes” and “target prices”.

Even the definition of the term “budget envelope” has also been redacted.

The concept that the construction timetable of HS2 is commercially sensitive and is therefore a state secret is utterly ludicrous. It is absolutely in the public interest to release this information.

Joe Rukin, Stop HS2
The agreement says the Transport Secretary has the final decision on any redactions at his “absolute discretion”.

Campaign group Stop HS2 has now accused Mr Grayling of failing to back up his own claims that the project is “on time and on budget”.

The Infrastructure and Projects Authority has rated the project as “in doubt, with major risks” for a fifth year in succession.

Earlier this month, Mr Grayling said it was “incredible, inconceivable and simply nonsense” to suggest the cost of HS2 is set to spiral out of control following claims in a newspaper that the £56bn project could end up costing more than £100bn.


Joe Rukin, campaign manager at Stop HS2, said: “The concept that the construction timetable of HS2 is commercially sensitive and is therefore a state secret is utterly ludicrous.

”It is absolutely in the public interest to release this information and the working budgets because this is a government project being built with public money.

“But the Department for Transport and HS2 Ltd have consistently refused to publish any of the reports that actually tell the truth about what is going on with this vanity project.”

The Government awarded contracts worth £6.6bn for the first phase of the route from London to Birmingham earlier this month and unveiled its route from Birmingham to Manchester and Leeds – confirming that it would pass through a new housing estate named Shimmer, near Doncaster.

‘Commercially sensitive’

The Department for Transport said the redactions in the agreement contain commercially sensitive information. The redacted pages are marked “Official – Sensitive (Commercial).”

The 2015 Spending Review confirmed the cost of HS2 at £55.8bn. The Development Agreement states that HS2 Ltd shall ensure the “anticipated final cost” of the first and second phases of the project shall not exceed that figure.

The document says the railway should be capable of carrying passengers “at the earliest date possible”, with the line operational to Manchester and Leeds by a “target final delivery date” of 2033.

But Penny Gaines, the chair of Stop HS2, said: “One thing that is clear with documents relating to HS2 is that the Government tries to get away with hiding as much information as they possibly can.”

A DfT spokesman said: “HS2 will become the backbone of our national rail network – creating more seats for passengers, supporting growth and regeneration and helping us build an economy that works for everyone.”

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 25, 2017 12:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

HS2 contracts worth £6.6bn awarded by UK government
Contracts announced as transport secretary prepares to unveil changes to final Manchester and Leeds routes
https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/jul/17/hs2-high-speed-rail-c ontracts-worth-66bn-awarded-uk-chris-grayling

Julia Kollewe and Gwyn Topham
Monday 17 July 2017 11.45 BST First published on Monday 17 July 2017 09.08 BST
The government has awarded £6.6bn in contracts to build the new high-speed HS2 railway between London and Birmingham, to companies including crisis-ridden construction firm Carillion.

Construction work is due to begin next year on new stations, tunnels, embankments and viaducts on the London to Birmingham line, which forms the first phase of the controversial HS2 project. The civil engineering alone is expected to create 16,000 jobs.

The TUC welcomed the contract awards as a “shot in the arm for Brexit Britain”. The union’s deputy general secretary, Paul Nowak, said: “It will provide thousands of decent jobs, billions in investment, and help close the north-south divide. HS2 is a real opportunity for British steel to shine. The next phase of HS2 should bring jobs and investment to the parts of Britain that need them most.”

Analysis What is HS2 and how much will it cost?
Not sure why the government is so keen on a new £55.7bn high-speed rail link? We answer your HS2 questions
Read more
The TUC has signed a framework agreement to guarantee high employment standards and to “maximise the potential benefits of HS2 to the UK supply chain”.

Chris Grayling, the transport secretary, also published a bill to prioritise phase 2a of HS2, which involves speeding up construction work between Birmingham and Crewe, and confirmed the precise route for phase2b, which will run north via Manchester and Leeds.


In the wake of fresh claims that the HS2 scheme could be beset by escalating costs, Grayling told the BBC that HS2 would be “on time, on budget” and insisted the government had “a clear idea of what it will cost”. Opponents have warned that the government is underestimating the costs, and that construction has already been delayed. The overall budget was revised up to £55.7bn, but estimates drawn up on behalf of Lord Berkeley, chairman of the Rail Freight Group, suggested it could be as high as £111bn. Grayling dismissed the figure as “nonsense”.

Asked about the decision to spend on infrastructure while there is a 1% cap on public sector pay, Grayling said: “That’s a very different issue because we are talking about capital investment over the next 15 years. We are not talking about current spending that the chancellor will decide on come the budget.”

HS2 supporters boast of benefits – but costs keep going off the rails
Nils Pratley
Nils Pratley Read more
Carillion’s joint venture with French construction company Eiffage and UK firm Kier has won two contracts worth £1.4bn to design and build the North Portal Chiltern tunnels to Brackley and the Brackley to Long Itchington Wood Green tunnel South Portal.

The troubled construction company’s share price crashed 70% last week after it issued a profit warning and announced the departure of its chief executive. However, Carillion shares were up more than 19% on Monday after the HS2 contract win. The firm announced it had appointed accountancy firm EY to support a strategic review of the business.


City analysts said the win was “encouraging” for Carillion’s shareholders, but remained sceptical about the firm’s outlook. Neil Wilson of ETX capital said: “Whether it can deliver these contracts is another matter. It could make it a slightly more attractive prospect to rescue if it comes to that.”

Balfour Beatty’s joint venture with French firm Vinci has won two contracts worth £2.5bn. They will design and build the Long Itchington Wood Green tunnel to the Delta Junction/Birmingham Spur and the section from the Delta Junction to the west coast main line near Lichfield in Staffordshire. Vinci has been involved in the high-speed Tours-Bordeaux rail project in France.

The Balfour Beatty chief executive, Leo Quinn, described HS2 as a “generational engineering project”.

A joint venture between Sweden-based Skanska, Austria’s Strabag and UK firm Costain, which has worked on Crossrail and the Channel tunnel, won contracts worth nearly £2bn.


Final route for HS2 north of Birmingham to be revealed
Read more
Other companies to have won HS2 work are French construction group Bouygues and UK firms Sir Robert McAlpine and VolkerFitzpatrick. Their venture was awarded a £965m contract.

The RMT union demanded the government ensure proper employment on all the contracts, noting that several of the firms had been involved in the blacklisting scandal settled last year.

Aslef’s Mick Whelan called for a government pledge not to sell off HS2, after Britain’s only current high-speed track, HS1, was sold on last week by pension funds who were awarded the concession. Whelan said HS2 was being paid for by the taxpayer and should “not be asset stripped by any government for the benefit of privateers”.

The first trains are due to run between London and Birmingham in 2026, with the full Y-shaped network expected to be in operation by 2033.

HS2 phase 1 construction contracts
Area South

S1: Euston tunnels and approaches – SCS JV (Skanska Construction UK, Costain, Strabag)

S2: Northolt tunnels – SCS JV (Skanska Construction UK, Costain, Strabag)

Area Central

C1: Chiltern tunnels and Colne Valley viaduct – Align JV (Bouygues Travaux Publics, VolkerFitzpatrick, Sir Robert McAlpine)

C2: North Portal Chiltern tunnels to Brackley – CEK JV (Carillion Construction, Eiffage Génie Civil, Kier Infrastructure and Overseas)

C3: Brackley to South Portal of Long Itchington Wood Green tunnel – CEK JV (Carillion Construction, Eiffage Génie Civil, Kier Infrastructure and Overseas)

Area North

N1: Long Itchington Wood Green tunnel to Delta Junction and Birmingham Spur – BBV JV (Balfour Beatty Group, Vinci Construction Grands Projets, Vinci Construction UK, Vinci Construction Terrassement)

N2: Delta Junction to WCML Tie-In – BBV JV (Balfour Beatty Group, Vinci Construction Grands Projets, Vinci Construction UK, Vinci Construction Terrassement)

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 29, 2017 10:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

“Leaks from inside the HS2 bureaucracy suggests the total cost of HS2 will be over £200 billion.”
http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/joe-rukin/hs2_b_16310298.html


HS2 Will Be A Disaster, But Politicians Lack The Bottle To Give It The Boot
03/05/2017 12:34

Joe Rukin Campaign Manager for Stop HS2 and former National Treasurer of the National Union of Students

Last week, when a group of Conservative backbenchers took a shopping list for their manifesto to the Number 10 policy unit, they were surprised to be told that changing the position on HS2 was already under consideration.

It had previously been reported that Theresa May wanted to cancel HS2 when she became PM, but was told it was ‘too late’. £2bn may have been blown on HS2, but there is no excuse in throwing good money after bad. Forget the Garden Bridge, remember the cancelled NHS computer system burning £9.8bn, or the £740m of projects Theresa May dumped on arrival at the Home Office?

With the secret Heywood Report into the true state of affairs at HS2 Ltd, there is no doubt good reason for not wanting to be tied to Camerons’ HS2, but at the weekend May seemingly caved in to pressure from HS2 cheerleaders, telling the Yorkshire Post “We remain absolutely committed to HS2”.
- ADVERTISEMENT -

This week-long wobble was reminiscent of the one Labour had in 2013 when Ed Balls had the sense to ask; “Is this the best way to spend £50 billion?”. Balls, like May it seems, was firmly instructed by those from the cities HS2 is due to ‘benefit’ that this was a non-starter, which given that HS2 Ltd have employed 17 PR firms so that Government can lobby itself, is sadly no shock.

Jeremy Corbyn, who previously voted against HS2, is similarly hamstrung. His Momentum group is heavily dependent on rail unions ASLEF & TSSA, whose mentality is no more complex than ‘more trains good’, despite HS2 being clearly an all-or-nothing affair. With inevitable budget over-runs, HS2 would suck up the entire DfT capital budget and more, squeezing out more beneficial rail infrastructure projects for decades to come.

First adopted without any assessment of whether it is needed, HS2 is now exactly where the 2006 DfT transport study by Sir Rod Eddington warned it would be:

“The challenge to be tackled has not been fully understood before a solution has been generated....... Such projects - ‘grands projets’ - develop real momentum, driven by strong lobbying. The momentum can make such projects difficult - and unpopular - to stop.”

Arguments used to support HS2 are superficial superlatives without substance: “Essential, compelling and transformational”, and that it will “Deliver connectivity, productivity and growth”. The reality would be exactly the opposite. Whilst HS2 is pushed as a magic wand to cure the North-South divide, every single piece of international evidence shows it would reinforce the dominance of London.
2017-04-28-1493393984-5384479-higginsbeleben.png As everyone accepts railways need more capacity, that is now what HS2 is supposedly for. But HS2 delivers capacity where it is needed the least, decades away, and at the highest possible cost. The vast majority of rail passengers are not the inter-city business elite HS2 would serve, but short distance commuters. Whilst ‘freeing up capacity’ sounds like a laudable aim, the HS2 business case states this would be achieved via £11.2bn worth of unspecified cuts to existing rail services. Across the world, high speed rail lines require massive subsidies having failed to achieve the grossly inflated passenger forecasts used to justify their construction. The National Audit Office say HS1 in Kent will cost an extra £10bn for just this reason.
The deception surrounding HS2 has long been endemic, with Chris Grayling sticking to the oft-repeated line that for every pound spent on HS2, we will get back £2.50 in benefits back. This hasn’t been the case since the benefit cost ratio was downgraded in 2013, and since then the proposed links to the Channel Tunnel & Heathrow have been cut, without the BCR being updated. These supposed benefits rely on the absolute ‘fact’ that no-one ever works on trains, and also assumed are further unbudgeted, unspecified, off the books investments needed to plumb HS2 in the existing transport system.

For seven years, HS2 has suffered from the worst possible thing you can have in UK politics; dogmatic and unwavering cross-party support. When scrutiny of HS2 has come from the likes of the NAO, Public Accounts Committee, Economic Affairs Committee and others including a host of transport, environmental and economics experts, it has been dismissed and ignored using standard soundbites. This culture has meant despite HS2 being consistently rated as in danger of failing by the Cabinet Office, HS2 Ltd repetitively claim they’ve fixed all the problems, and six months later the cycle repeats.

Legislation for Phase 1 may have passed two years late, but according to HS2 Ltd it is still “On time and on budget”. That overall budget now stands at £55.7bn, a figure which looks exceptionally similar to the suggested Brexit divorce cost, significantly up from £32.7bn in 2010, and a long cry from the £15.7bn of public funds Theresa Villiers suggested high speed rail would cost in 2008.

When the price tag rose to £55.7bn, Parliament was assured this was purely to take account for inflation. Typical of the obsessive and incomprehensible determination to proceed HS2, this was another lie, as an FOI showed the cost of Phase 2 had spiralled by 39.2%, with the overall cost of HS2 massaged down by inexplicably deciding the trains would now cost less.

There are very few who believe £55.7bn is all HS2 would cost. In 2013 the Treasury came up with £73bn, Michael Byng who wrote the book for Network Rail on cost estimates says Phase 1 would take the entire budget, the NAO recently found a £9bn over-run, and Kelvin Hopkins MP has gone on record saying:

“Leaks from inside the HS2 bureaucracy suggests the total cost of HS2 will be over £200 billion.”

Alarm bells should be ringing loud and clear, but none of this matters in the face of lobbying from the firms that want to build HS2. By walking away from one contract due to a conflict of interest scandal last month, US-based CH2M maybe hoped to deflect attention from another contract, which gives them a say in who gets £8.6bn worth of construction contracts. For an idea of how those might turn out, the first HS2 contract gave CH2M was for £70m, but it came in 49% over budget at £104m.

No-one expects that the next Government will have an easy time. But remarkably, despite an almost inevitable backdrop of more cuts in public services, politicians are queuing up to embrace the ongoing festering sore of more delays and more billions on a project, only wanted by those planning to rake in those billions.

All the evidence shows HS2 will be a disaster, but what do politicians care about evidence?

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 29, 2017 8:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Foreign-backed investors are pocketing £200m a year from Britain's privatised railways just by leasing them trains
http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/foreign-backed-investors-pocketin g-200m-11000578

And the RMT union reveals train passengers would see their fares cut by 2.1 per cent if 'rip-off' was ended

COMMENTS BY MARK ELLIS 21:36, 16 AUG 2017

Foreign-backed speculators are making £200m a year out of Britain’s privatised railways just by leasing trains to train operating companies, official figures reveal.

An analysis of government data by the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union shows that rail users could see a fare cut of 2.1% if the ‘rip-off’ was ended.

The revelation comes just days after the government unveiled a 3.6% rise in regulated fares , which make up about half of all tickets and include season tickets and standard and saver returns.

The bombshell sparked demands by campaigners and rail union leaders for a fare freeze and renewed calls for the railways to be taken back into public ownership - as the Mirror has been demanding.

Figures from the Office of Rail & Road show that 12% of fare money, out of total fare income of £9.2bn, was spent on leasing trains from three private rolling stock operating companies.

They are:

- Angel Trains owned by a consortium of infrastructure and pensions investors including AMP Capital Investors and Canadian pension investor PSP Investments .

- Porterbrook owned by a consortium of infrastructure investors including Germany’s Allianz Capital Partners, Australian asset manager Hastings, Canada’s Alberta Investment Management Corporation and EDF Invest of France.

- Eversholt Rail Group owned by CK Investments is jointly owned by Cheung Kong Infrastructure Holdings Ltd and Cheung Kong (Holdings) Ltd two investment vehicles backed by Li Ka-shing, one of Asia’s richest men.

Most trains on Britain’s railways are leased and the RMT says the figures on the rolling stock ‘market’ highlight how little capital investment train operating companies actually make themselves.

The data also shows that the three companies received £1.4 billion in 2015-16, but only experienced costs of £1.2 billion.

The RMT says the profit margin of 16.7%, £200 million, accounts for over 2p of every pound spent on a ticket or the equivalent of a fare cut of 2.1% could be achieved by taking the rolling stock into public ownership.

Mick Cash, RMT general secretary, said tonight: “If fare payers thought it was just the private rail companies that were bleeding them dry they ought to take a look at the shady world of the rolling stock companies.

READ MORE
Rail commuters brace for highest price hike in 5 years as UK inflation rises to 3.6% - and food prices are very close behind
Fares could be cut as much as 30 per cent if the rail franchises went back under government control (Image: Getty)
“These overseas outfits are creaming our railways for fat profits and have complete control over the crucial fleet operations and use that power to exploit the British passenger in what is nothing less than a government-sponsored racket.

“When RMT talks about public ownership we mean sweeping all these chancers and speculators off our railways and re-investing the fat sums they are pocketing back into services.

“If we took this mob out of the equation we could cut fares, keep the guards and invest in the modernisation and upgrade works that our railways are crying out for.”

Cat Hobbs, director of public ownership campaign group We Own It, said taking rail franchises back under government control could save at least £1 billion taken in profits and cut fares by 30%.

She added: “Rail fares are getting ever more outrageous but it doesn’t have to be this way.

“The Mirror has been calling for public ownership because passengers will keep getting ripped off as long as our railway is privatised.”

The Rail Delivery Group, which represents train operating companies and Network Rail, claim that just 3% of total fares paid end up in the pockets of train firms.

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