Parliament ‘misled’ over ‘out of control’ HS2 spending, review’s deputy chair claims
MPs have been ‘misled’ over the spiralling cost of HS2, the former deputy chair of the government’s review has said.
Labour peer Lord Tony Berkeley said the actual total for the high-speed rail link could be almost double the £55billion figure pitched to Parliament in 2015.
In an alternative report published separately from the official inquiry, he claims spending on the project is now “out of control” and could now cost over £108bn.
Lord Berkeley withdrew his support from the Government’s review into HS2 in November after a draft report recommended it go ahead.
In a letter to its chairman Doug Oakervee he criticised the draft’s “lack of balance” and unwillingness to consider alternative options to the current proposed line.
The project, which will link London and the north of England, is expected to carry its first passengers between Birmingham and the capital in 2029.
But Lord Berkeley predicts that this is unlikely to happen before 2031, with trains not expected to reach Manchester and Leeds until 2040.
In his report he wrote: "From the evidence I have seen, I believe that parliament was misled on the question of HS2 costs and that it is highly unlikely that, if it had been given the real cost figures by the Department of Transport, it would have passed the legislation to allow this project to proceed."
He added: "It is my belief that there is overwhelming evidence that the costs of the HS2 project are out of control, the benefits are overstated and that it potentially will not be delivered to Leeds and Manchester for another 20 years."
The Government’s independent review was launched in August 2019 to assess the future, costs and benefits of HS2, but attracted criticism when Mr Oakervee, a former chair of the HS2 Ltd company, was appointed to lead it.
His final report is set to be published in the coming months.