At the weekend the Independent on Sunday reported that a review of HS2 Ltd due this year has been delayed “because of fears that the team behind the project might fail crucial tests.”
The Independent reports:
“HS2 Ltd, the Department for Transport-backed team developing the much criticised service, was supposed to be reviewed by government by the end of the year. Rail industry sources said the plan was for this to be conducted in the autumn, but HS2 Ltd has confirmed these tests will not be undertaken until the spring.
“Industry insiders say the importance of the delayed review is hugely significant. In its corporate plan for 2015-18, HS2 Ltd says: ‘We expect to pass review point one towards the end of 2015 and demonstrate that we have the organisational maturity required to move on to the next stage of the programme, specifically gaining the powers necessary to commence tendering for phase one delivery contracts.'”
The report, which can be viewed online, is dated 2015, with references to work happening in April 2015. This means that in less than 6 months, the first major review point has gone from ‘expecting to pass’ to ‘expecting to fail’. The third review point was expected to co-incide with HS2 gaining Royal Assent.
The Independent adds:
“But a senior rail industry source said: “It looks as if this review has been deferred because HS2 Ltd is not ready. They fear failing the review and that would undermine their credibility. On the government side, a failure would have also had implications over their capability of monitoring the programme.”
“The review would include an assessment of whether IT and project management systems were up to scratch and consider the quality of those developing the proposals. HS2 Ltd chief executive Simon Kirby, who is the UK’s highest paid civil servant, said last month that his £750,000 salary would provide “value to the taxpayers”; 18 staff at HS2 Ltd exceed the PM’s £149,000 salary.”
It comes as no surprise to Stop HS2 that this is yet another delay. Right from the start, the MPA reports warned of the risks to the projects of delays. The Phase 2 announcement was delayed from Autumn 2014 to some unknown date in the future.
Given the previous track record of HS2 Ltd, especially with the consistent amber-red ratings from the MPA, it is also no surprise that HS2 Ltd would be likely to fail the assessment. The only surprise is that HS2 Ltd think they have any credibility left to protect.
The only thing speeding up with HS2 is the rate at which they get their dates wrong.