PAC report into the sale of Eurostar casts doubt on case for HS2
The Committee of Public Accounts (PAC) report into the sale of the taxpayer’s stake in Eurostar, has highlighted concerns about the Department for Transport’s approach to evaluating the benefits and economic impact of transport projects that cast doubt on the case for HS2.

It describes the two year delay in publishing a DfT evaluation of HS1 that showed the project was poor value for money, as being unacceptable.

Meg Hillier MP and chair of the PAC, said: “We now also know, following publication of the government’s much delayed report, that the costs of HS1 far outweigh its economic benefits. It is deeply concerning that work towards HS2 should have progressed without full and detailed consideration of HS1. The government’s evaluation of HS1, produced at the urging of this Committee, could and arguably should have been a key piece of evidence in scrutinising plans for HS2.”

Call goes out to gather evidence for an assessment of UK’s future infrastructure needs
A nationwide consultation has been launched to gather evidence for a comprehensive independent assessment of the UK’s future infrastructure needs and how they could be met. The deadline for written submissions is 29 February 2016.

The findings will then feed into the National Infrastructure Commission.

The consultation is being managed by a coalition of business, industry, academic and environment leaders, chaired by NIC commissioner, Sir John Armitt.

The needs assessment will be based on evidence gathered during the consultation, evidence hearings, research being undertaken by the Infrastructure Transitions Research Consortium, and a vast pool of data and analysis. It will take into account factors such as climate change, population growth and technological game changers. It will also review different options for meeting the UK’s needs, considering affordability, public acceptability and environmental obligations. A report will be published in the autumn, setting out a vision for UK infrastructure up to 2050 and a series of interventions Government and industry will need to make to realise the vision.

The coalition includes ICE, CBI, KPMG, Pinsent Masons, University of Cambridge, University of Oxford, Graham Dalton, National Grid, London First, Green Alliance, Transport for Greater Manchester, Thames Water and the Scottish Council for Development and Industry.

In Brief

Passenger satisfaction highest for 2 years
The latest Transport Focus survey from the RDG reveals a significant rise in passenger satisfaction. Some 83% of passengers surveyed in autumn 2015 were satisfied with their journey overall, 2% higher than in autumn 2014 and 3% more than in spring 2015. Satisfaction improved in 20 out of 35 categories of facilities.

King’s Cross sells for £371m
The government has announced the sale of its stake in the iconic King’s Cross development to AustralianSuper, Australia’s largest pension fund, for the sum of £371m. The 67-acre site is being redeveloped with offices, residential and leisure properties. All proceeds will return to the Treasury.

Help in a crisis
National law firm Shoosmiths has launched a free crisis management tool to help businesses avoid making costly mistakes in a crisis. The tool highlights critical questions that managers should ask at the outset of any crisis and helps them to think strategically across a variety of issues. It can be downloaded from ow.ly/Xdrtp

Smart wall first at Harrogate
The UK’s first retailing smart wall has been launched at Harrogate station. Facial detection technology senses when a customer is approaching and automatically moves the ticket touchscreen to eye level. Other features include a small video screen that could be linked to a virtual call centre to help customers.

UITP forms North America ties
Urban rail operators in North America will soon be able to form closer contacts with rail industry players globally, following the formation of an urban rail platform for North America. The UITP initiative will promote the sharing of knowledge and expertise and help advance North American rail development.