Disaster looms for HS2 as government watchdog declares costly rail project “unachievable”
The high profile HS2 rail project has been branded with a red rating and declared “unachievable” by a government watchdog.
The beleaguered HS2, which has been bogged down by spiralling costs and serious delays, is once again under a negative spotlight and facing an uncertain future.
The Infrastructure and Projects Authority (IPA) analysed the first two phases of the HS2 line – from London to Birmingham, and then to Crewe – and concluded that the project would not be deliverable.
The IPA is an important government watchdog that reports directly to the Treasury and the Cabinet Office, and the its report into the HS2 project will have serious repercussions.
The IPA issued a red rating for the HS2 project in its current form and said “successful delivery of the project appears to be unachievable”.
The IPA report also stated: “There are major issues with project definition, schedule, budget, quality and/or benefits delivery, which at this stage do not appear to be manageable or resolvable. The project may need rescoping and/or its overall viability reassessed.”
Lord Tony Berkeley (Lab), is calling for a cancellation of HS2: “It should be cancelled tomorrow. This is the Treasury’s own report telling them that the scheme is unachievable. What more evidence do they need?
“Everyone knows the money would be so much better spent on improving the existing rail infrastructure – particularly Northern Rail. Someone just needs to take the decision.”
Speaking before the IPA report was published, Joe Rukin (founder of Stop HS2) labelled the high speed rail project a “disaster” and added: “It is massively environmentally damaging, prohibitively expensive, unwanted, unloved and unneeded.
“It only exists because of hard lobbying from the construction industry, who wanted to build the most expensive railway in world history.”
The HS2 project has been plagued by rising costs and delays since its inception.
The Labour government got the ball rolling for the HS2 project in 2009 with costs predicted at £7 billion for the line between London and Birmingham to be completed by 2020.
In 2012 the HS2 project received the blessing of Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government with a budget of £32 billion. However, a year later the costs had soared to £42 billion.
Despite rising costs, Prime Minister Boris Johnson gives the project the green light in 2020 even though HS2 was running behind schedule and over budget.
The current estimate for the controversial project is somewhere in the region of £71 billion, and the date of the completion of the London to Birmingham line moving from 2026 to 2033.