A secret report produced by the Governments’ Infrastructure and Projects Authority months before HS2 got its’ final approval in Parliament, warned that the costs of the project were ”highly likely” to go over-budget and threaten public spending on other projects.
The report, which has been leaked to the Sunday Times was produced in December 2016 whilst the HS2 Bill was still at committee stage in the House of Lords, states HS2 is “Highly likely to significantly overspend, c. 20-60%, with the likely cost increasing . . . to more than £80bn” with a “Very high opportunity-cost impact across other government departments”.
The Sunday Times also states that the IPA report, which was classified “official-sensitive” and “not for publication” concluded that HS2 is “fundamentally flawed” and in a “precarious position”.
The only other details from the report released at this time are that the management team at HS2 Ltd have a “Lack of cohesion and common vision” and have “No credible plan by which to gauge or manage progress”. Earlier this month, the IPA annual rated HS2 as ‘amber-red’ meaning the project is ‘in doubt’ with ‘major risks’, for the sixth year running.
The leaking of this report comes a month after the cost of HS2 potentially went up by £3bn in the space of a week. In June, it was revealed that contractors had told HS2 Ltd that £6.6bn of construction contracts are likely to cost £1.2bn more, because HS2 Ltd have still not conducted detailed enough ground surveys. It has been confirmed that this means there will now not be finalised designs for Phase 1 until summer 2019, three years later than the schedule originally presented to Parliament.
A couple of days after this, a whistle blower from HS2 Ltd came forward with documents suggesting that the cost of buying land for the project would cost around £1.9bn more than previously estimated, as HS2 Ltd had valued several thousand properties at nothing. Currently HS2 Ltd has come under heavy criticism for their policy of evicting business owners without any compensation whatsoever.
Stop HS2 Campaign Manager Joe Rukin responded:
“There have been some pretty scathing reports on HS2, but it seems this is by far the worst. It is truly amazing, given that every time any independent body reports on HS2 the project gets slated, that Government remains wedded to this white elephant and consistently supresses the truth about what is really going on with the budget and the timescales.”
“Everything that we have warned about; that the budget will balloon out of control and that compensation & mitigation will be the first thing to be cut back, that the thing will be years late, that other transport projects will be cut to pay for HS2, and that the whole thing is totally out of control is already coming true before they’ve even started building it. Yet all Government and HS2 Ltd do is lie, clinging to the mast of their sinking ship claiming it is ‘On time and on budget’ when all the evidence says otherwise, because for some reason, when it comes to HS2, the only thing they ever do is lie.”
Penny Gaines, chair of Stop HS2, added:
“The official government figures for the cost of HS2 have always been questionable, but it now appears that the Governments own infrastructure watchdog is adamant those forecasts are bogus. Government knew that the real costs of HS2 were expected to be significantly higher, but kept this secret and got the thing through Parliament .”
“Meanwhile, HS2 Ltd and the Department for Transport continue to claim that HS2 is being built to time and budget, whilst ditching anything they can get away with. This is not just nice-to-haves like including cycling provision on bridges. But it’s more fundamental issues, such as paying for people’s land and property that HS2 Ltd have taken over.”
“HS2 has always been an overpriced vanity project and it is now time to cancel it.”