Building the High-Speed 2 (High Speed 2: A proposed high-speed railway line linking London with the Midlands, the North of England and eventually the central belt of Scotland. It is being developed by High Speed Two Ltd, a comp...) railway line is “the wrong and expensive solution” for the UK and could cost nearly £108 billion, according to the deputy chair of the independent review into the project.
In a rogue report published by Lord Tony Berkeley, the civil engineer said he does not believe the evidence gathered in the government-commissioned review supports the recommendations he saw in a draft of the final report due to be submitted to transport secretary Grant Shapps.
In addition, Lord Berkeley said that of the options considered in the review, “the base case for completing High Speed 2: A proposed high-speed railway line linking London with the Midlands, the North of England and eventually the central belt of Scotland. It is being developed by High Speed Two Ltd, a comp... Ltd is estimated to cost £107 billion at 2019 prices”. He said “perhaps £20 billion” could be saved on Phase 2b connecting to Manchester and Leeds.
The report adds that one estimate places the total cost at £115.8 billion when the price of rolling stock is included.
The project was originally projected to cost £55.7 billion in 2015 – later updated to £62.4 billion in 2019 prices – but new HS2 Ltd chairman Allan Cook wrote to the government toward the end of 2019 to say the railway would cost upwards of £88 billion.
Lord Berkeley worked on the HS2 review alongside chair Douglas Oakervee, but he was told on 31 October 2019 – before the draft report was complete – that his involvement was no longer needed. In the foreword to his own report, he claimed he was not asked to sign the draft he saw and told Oakervee he did not agree with its conclusions.
Lord Berkeley also said commuters and passengers in the North of England would be better served by “[integrating] the Phase 2B lines within the NPH [Northern Powerhouse] area into the existing network, and improving the Network Rail lines in the NPH and MC areas by track quadrupling to what it was before the Beeching-era cuts”. He said aiming to improve existing services and infrastructure would save around £50 billion compared to the estimated cost of High Speed 2: A proposed high-speed railway line linking London with the Midlands, the North of England and eventually the central belt of Scotland. It is being developed by High Speed Two Ltd, a comp....
According to Lord Berkeley, the cost of Phase 1 – for which work is continuing while the government considers whether or not to go ahead with the project – has risen 361 per cent to £54.5 billion.
The final report from the official review has yet to be released to the public, and the government has said Lord Berkeley’s statement is his own personal view, but members of the review panel told the BBC in November that they would recommend going ahead with construction with only minor alterations. These include reducing the number of trains operated from 18 per hour to 14.
Prime minister Boris Johnson has said he would “hesitate before simply scrapping something that has been long planned and is of great national importance”.