Hardly a ringing endorsement for HS2 from Chris Grayling

On Sunday 17th July, new Transport Secretary Chris Grayling told the BBC that he has: “No plans to back away from the HS2 project”, which has been interpreted by some media outlets as a cast-iron vow that it is ‘full steam ahead’ with the project.

With what was clearly a script that had been left behind by Patrick McLoughlin, that demonstrated Mr Grayling hasn’t really looked into any of the details of HS2 yet, he told Radio 4:

“I have no plans to back away from the HS2 project.”

“And the thing that’s important for people to understand is that HS2 is not simply a speed project, it’s a capacity project.”

“We have lines at the moment which have seen huge increases in the number of passengers, the amount of freight in recent years.”

“The West Coast mainline for example is becoming really congested, it’s limiting the capacity of services to places like Northampton and Milton Keynes.”

“HS2 has always been a capacity project as much as a speed project.”

“Of course it makes sense if we’re going to build a new railway line for it to be a fast railway line, to increase travel times or reduce travel times from north to south, that’s logical.”

“But actually we need a better transport system for the 21st century and HS2 is part of increasing the capacity of our transport system.”

Stop HS2 Campaign Manager Joe Rukin responded:

“Saying you have no plans to back away from HS2 is hardly the ringing endorsement for the project some have taken it as. Whilst Mr Grayling currently seems to have swallowed the argument that HS2 is needed for capacity reasons, the reality is that HS2 delivers capacity where it is needed the least for a far greater cost than alternative solutions.”

“The National Audit Office recently disclosed that HS2 Ltd has a £9bn cost overrun and they are only certain they can bring £2bn of that back, meaning the real cost of the project as it stands is really £63bn, not £56bn. We’ve also found out that despite HS2 Ltd failing a recent review, they’ve still been allowed to go ahead with the tendering process. All of this is likely to put the benefit-cost ratio below 1.5, the level at which new Chancellor Philip Hammond said he would give the project ‘very serious scrutiny’ when he was in charge of transport.”

“Given all this, and the fact a post-Brexit HS2 would cost less, it would be irresponsible not to conduct a review of the project, before it is too late.”

One comment to “Hardly a ringing endorsement for HS2 from Chris Grayling”
  1. To get a meaningful option requires HighSpeed UK to go with funding and contractors and a phase of works plan to May and Grayling

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