Today, the Lord Berkeley, the vice-chair of the Oakervee review into HS2 has submitted his own independent report on HS2, saying there is overwhelming evidence that the projects costs are out of control and that the benefits have consistently been overstated, with one of the key conclusions being that £40bn would be wasted if HS2 went ahead as it would cost over £100bn and the benefit-cost ratio is now down to 0.6.
While much of the focus has been on the overblown costs, increasing delays, lack of benefits and underplayed damage to the environment. But there are other fundamental issues in play, such as despite the fact enabling work is going on, after ten years even phase one of HS2 is not ‘shovel ready’. There is not only still no final design, but there is also no feasible solution on the table as to how the stations at Old Oak Common or Euston could actually work, or indeed how HS2 will be threaded through into Birmingham and around the constraints surrounding the proximity of the Interchange station, delta junction and east/west split.
Proponents have tried to claim that unseen benefits have not been looked at, but that just demonstrates they haven’t actually read the report, as the projected Wider Economic Benefits are down by £20bn, which along with costs being £50bn over the stated budget puts the benefit cost ratio at 0.6. Most importantly, the DfT, HS2 Ltd and The Treasury knew all this back in 2016, before MPs gave phase one the final go ahead.
To put all that into context, Crossrail is almost finished and will end up 25% over budget. HS2 costings are still being calculated in 2015 prices, which adds £12.85bn just in inflation, putting HS2 already 93.75% over the 2015 budget of £55.7bn. Though of course the original 2010 budget was £32.6bn.
The full and final report can be found here.
Stop HS2 Campaign Manager Joe Rukin responded:
“This report leaves HS2 so irrevocably damaged that there can surely be no choice left but to cancel it. Lord Berkeley has demonstrated that everything we have been saying is true: the costs have been deliberately understated meaning parliament was misled; the benefits were invented to try and con the public this was about more than satisfying the vested commercial interests who have been running their own gravy train; the environmental damage has been deliberately understated to greenwash the whole thing; people have been having their homes, land and businesses snatched for fractions of their value to cover-up the incompetence of HS2 estimations of costs; and not only is HS2 years behind schedule, but delivering the promised number of trains at the specified speeds, the entire supposed purpose of HS2, isn’t actually possible.”
“This report shows HS2 is beyond scandal, this report shows HS2 is nothing more a decade long, calculated exercise to ignore the evidence, dismiss all criticism, bury the truth and defraud the taxpayer. HS2 must be cancelled immediately.”
Penny Gaines, chair of Stop HS2, added
“The case for HS2 has always been poor, and is simply getting worse. In the last six months the expected cost has nearly doubled, the timescale massively increased and the environmental damage from HS2 is becoming increasingly apparent. It is time for this white elephant of a project to be cancelled as quickly as possible.”