News Item: HS2 Rail Project to be Reviewed

Grant Shapps, Transport Secretary has said that the government is launching a review of high-speed rail link HS2 with a “go or no go” decision to be made by the end of the year. 

The review aims to find out what it would cost to complete HS2 and will consider whether or how the project that will connect London, the Midlands and Northern England should proceed. Although billions have already been spent, Mr Shapps refused to rule out stopping it completely, saying it is “responsible” to see whether the benefits “stack up” and later commenting “just because you’ve spent a lot of money on something does not mean you should plough more and more money into it”. 

The HS2 is designed to carry trains capable of travelling at 250mph, with phase one of the development (between London and Birmingham) due to open at the end of 2026, and the second phase (to Leeds and Manchester) scheduled to be complete by 2032-33. 

The review will be chaired by Douglas Oakervee, a civil engineer and former HS2 Ltd chair. Lord Berkeley, another civil engineer, who worked on the construction of the Channel Tunnel, will be acting as deputy. 

The review will look into:

  • Cost estimates so far
  • Opportunities for efficiency savings
  • The environmental impact, focusing specifically on net zero carbon commitment
  • Whether the economic and business case made for HS2 is accurate
  • The added costs of cancelling the project or changing its scope, such as combining phases 1 and 2a (Birmingham to Crewe), reducing the speed or building only phase 1 

A final report will be sent to the government in the autumn.