Lords urge re-think on controversial HS2 project
The House of Lords weighed in on the controversial HS2 high-speed rail project on Thursday, saying it would not offer value for money to the UK, and was at risk of “short changing” the North of England.
In the report from the Lords’ Economic Affairs Committee, the peers said they were “far from convinced” that the project would remain within its already-inflated £55.7bn budget.
The HS2 project is being built in stages, with the first stage set to connect London with Birmingham, improving travel times on between those two cities by around 35 minutes.
According to the Lords, the project should not be going ahead unless a new investigation was conducted into its costs and benefits - something which the government said it “fundamentally disagreed” with.
The committee noted that more than £4bn had already been spent on the first phase of HS2, but was critical of there being too much emphasis on journey times in the project, with too little thought being put into the economic impact on the regions.
It said the first phase was of “little benefit” to northern cities, which it claimed were most in need to improved railway infrastructure, and warned the second phase was at risk of never being built due to budget blowouts.
“The northern sections of High Speed 2 must not be sacrificed to make up for overspending on the railway's southern sections,” said committee chair Lord Forsyth.
The first phase of HS2 is currently being delivered by the ‘ALIGN’ joint venture, which consists of Bouygues Travaux Publics, VolkerFitzpatrick and Sir Robert McAlpine.