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Eurostar sale “well handled” but DfT under fire from PAC

The House of Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) says the Government’s sale of its stake in Channel Tunnel passenger operator Eurostar was “well handled and secured a good return for the taxpayer”.

However, the sale price of £585.1 million was more than double pre-sale valuations provided by the Treasury, leading the committee to conclude: “The Government has a track record in undervaluing assets it is selling.”

The PAC’s formal report follows an oral evidence session on November 18 2015. Another key finding is that the Government relies on too few financial and legal advisors on asset sales and projects. The committee does not question the integrity of the appointment process, but says: “We are concerned that a small number of advisors are engaged so frequently.”

The Department for Transport (DfT) comes in for criticism, with the PAC calling a two-year delay in publishing an evaluation of the economic benefits of High Speed 1 “unacceptable”. The report was promised in summer 2013 but was not published until October 2015. 

  • For more on this, read RAIL 793, published on February 3.

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