The Stop HS2 campaign is calling on new Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling to urgently review the HS2 project, following on from the recent revelation that the company failed a review in May due to worries about costs and schedules.
It had previously been stated that HS2 Ltd would have to pass ‘Review Point 1’, before being allowed to start its’ tendering process, but despite failing, the DfT and Treasury decided to give them the green light. It was also revealed in a recent National Audit Office report that HS2 Ltd recently discovered they had a £9bn cost overrun, but immediately cancelled it out by finding £9bn worth of savings, though only £2bn of those are confirmed, which should put the current official cost of the project at £63bn.
New Prime Minister Theresa May has a record of cancelling projects on taking office, with ID Cards and an immigration computer system being cancelled as soon as she became Home Secretary. Mr Grayling did not vote at the time of the 2nd reading of HS2 in the House of Commons for ‘unknown reasons’ but he did vote for it at the 3rd reading.
It seems that the only time either May or Grayling have ever come close to expressing an opinion on HS2, was when the entire cabinet was sent on a road trip for the announcement of Phase 2 in January 2013. One thing which does seem certain is that the lack of environmental credentials for HS2 will surely be pointed out at cabinet, as long-time critic Andrea Leadsom becomes the new Environment Secretary.
Stop HS2 Campaign Manager Joe Rukin responded:
“Mr Grayling must immediately get to the bottom of why HS2 Ltd have been allowed to begin their tendering process, despite failing their review. The other big question that he must look into right away is where the real cost of the project is after they seemed to find £9bn worth of cost savings down the back of the sofa, because it looks to us like the actual cost stands at £63bn, which would take the benefit cost ratio well below where it needs to be to progress with the project.”
“It would be irresponsible not to carry out a review at this point in time, as even if the new Government decided to go ahead with the project, a post-Brexit HS2 could cost much less, as EU specifications on things like the need to double up tunnels add billions to the overall cost.”
“Today we have seen a new broom clearing out of the old guard, and we can only hope that some of their less sensible ideas, such as HS2 which has been rated as ‘at risk’ by Government since 2011, will be one the way out with them. We are confident that if an impartial assessment of HS2 is done in the cold light of day without political bias, then the project will come up sorely wanting and be cancelled.”