HS2 will be Boris’ Big Blunder

Today, Boris Johnson announced his intention to go ahead with HS2, though the Oakervee recommendations make it clear that the project has still not received Notice to Proceed (see below). Here’s the response from Stop HS2


Alternative versions of this video are available on on Twitter and Facebook.

Penny Gaines, chair of Stop HS2, said:

“It’s been clear for a very long time that HS2 Ltd is a dire company with a dysfunctional management scheme that iss not fit to run a model railway let alone run a railway building company with a budget of many billions.  Boris Johnson has called them profligate and even supporters of HS2 acknowledge the management is dire.”

 “However, changing management might make sense if HS2 made sense, but it doesn’t. The Oakervee review said that the speed of the trains was wrong, the number of trains an hour was wrong even the underlying model of the network was wrong.  The Infrastructure and Projects Authority have said it is unachievable, and the only certain thing about the proposed £106 billion budget is that HS2 won’t keep to it.  If it was any one of those factors, then it might be reasonable to rethink HS2 but with all of them combined, the only sensible option was to cancel HS2.

Stop HS2 Campaign Manager Joe Rukin added:

 “Giving HS2 the go-ahead on the back of the Oakervee Review, a review which was written by the people it was meant to be investigating, is saying none of the evidence matters, none of the facts matter, we’re going to do it for the sake of doing it, this is a decision from the bumbling, bungling Boris we feared we would get. HS2 will be Boris’ Big Blunder, it’s a shame he can’t see that.”

“Since HS2 was first announced, the links to Heathrow and HS1 have been cut but the cost has still managed to treble; it’s now admitted that 18 trains per hour at the proposed speeds can’t be done, which is an admission that every argument for HS2, whether that be the business case, the service pattern and all the illusory promises of freed-up capacity have been a lie right from the start; the 250mph design speed makes HS2 straight and wide so it threatens almost 700 habitat sites and over 100 ancient woodlands, and the concrete needed means it’ll only add to the climate crisis, making a mockery of everything Boris Johnson  said last week at COP 26; the Governments own watchdog, the Infrastructure and Projects Authority reported twice last year that the HS2 programme was unachievable and we’re still waiting for the outcome of the Serious Fraud Office investigation into allegations of fraud, bribery and corruption.”

The Oakervee Review, which the Government are implementing makes it clear that there is still one final hurdle for HS2 to clear, Notice to Proceed. The review (point 3.3) states:

The key decision for Phase One is ‘Notice to Proceed’ (NtP): the government authorisation for HS2 Ltd to finalise the contracts for major construction works for Phase One alone. In essence, NtP is a go/no-go for
the entire HS2 project as the Review has concluded that it only makes sense to do Phase One if continuing with the northern phases. Before issuing NtP, the government should as soon as possible ensure:

  • HS2 Ltd achieves a satisfactory position with each of the Main Works Civils contractors in order to obtain acceptable Stage 2 prices and a reasonable level of value engineering. If HS2 Ltd cannot achieve a satisfactory position with the Main Works Civils contractors, then HS2 Ltd, subject to further discussions with the DfT and HM Treasury, may have to consider re-procuring some or all of these contracts (conclusion 25 in section 8)
  • an updated business case for Phase One, approved by HM Treasury, is published and a revised funding envelope is set for Phase One with appropriate levels of contingency to be held by the DfT/HM Treasury (conclusion 21 in section 7 and conclusion 59 in section 11)
  • the DfT updates and publishes a revised business case for the project as a whole. This should include the latest cost and benefits for the project (conclusion 59 in section 11)
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