The National Audit Office says experience of the Intercity Express and Thameslink rolling stock programmes shows that negotiating the terms of private finance can take significantly longer than the two years currently allowed for procurement in the HS2 schedule.
“Going down a private finance route now would increase the risk to opening Phase 1 in 2026, delaying passenger benefits,” the NAO’s Progress with preparations for High Speed report says. It points out that while procurement for Thameslink and IEP trains was estimated at 16 and 17 months respectively from Invitation To Tender to contract award, they actually took 56 and 44 months.
Three reviews - two by the Department for Transport and one by HS2 Ltd - have confirmed that public funding represents the best value for money, but the DfT is now considering using the private sector to refinance and take ownership of the train fleet once procurement is complete. The NAO concludes that in the longer term this will require additional public spending over the cost of buying and owning the fleet outright.
- For more on the NAO's report into HS2, read RAIL 804, published July 6.