STOP HS2 PLEA TO NEW PM
Campaigners call for urgent review into rail project
THE Stop HS2 campaign is calling on the new Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling to urgently review the high speed rail project.
It follows on from the recent revelation the company failed a review in May due to worries about costs and schedules.
It had previously been stated that HS2 Ltd would have to pass ‘Review Point 1,’ before being allowed to start its’ tendering process, but despite failing, the DfT and Treasury gave them the go ahead.
New Prime Minister Theresa May has a record of cancelling projects on taking office, with ID Cards and an immigration computer system being cancelled as soon as she became Home Secretary.
Mr Grayling did not vote at the time of the second reading of HS2 in the House of Commons for ‘unknown reasons’ but he did vote for it at the third reading.
However, Stop HS2 says one thing which does seem certain is that the ‘lack of environmental credentials’ for HS2 will ‘surely’ be pointed out at cabinet, as long-time critic Andrea Leadsom takes over as Environment Secretary.
Stop HS2 campaign manager Joe Rukin said: “Mr Grayling must immediately get to the bottom of why HS2 Ltd have been allowed to begin their tendering process, despite failing their review.
“The other big question that he must look into right away is where the real
cost of the project is after they seemed to find £9bn worth of cost savings down the back of the sofa, because it looks to us like the actual cost stands at £63bn, which would take the benefit cost ratio well below where it needs to be to progress with the project.
“It would be irresponsible not to carry out a review at this point in time, as even if the new Government decided to go ahead with the project, a post-Brexit HS2 could cost much less, as EU specifications on things like the need to double up tunnels add billions to the overall cost.”
He continued: “Last week we saw a new broom clearing out of the old guard, and we can only hope that some of their less sensible ideas, such as HS2 which has been rated as ‘at risk’ by Government since 2011, will be on the way out with them. We are confident that if an impartial assessment of HS2 is done without political bias, then the project will come up sorely wanting and be cancelled.”
However, on Sunday Mr Grayling told the BBC he has ‘no plans to back away from HS2,’ which has been interpreted by some media outlets as a vow to go ahead with the project.
Mr Rukin said: “Saying you have no plans to back away from HS2 is hardly the ringing endorsement for the project some have taken it as.
“Whilst Mr Grayling currently seems to have swallowed the argument that HS2 is needed for capacity reasons, the reality is that HS2 delivers capacity where it is needed the least for a far greater cost than alternative solutions.”
He added: “The National Audit Office recently disclosed that HS2 Ltd has a £9billion cost overrun and they are only certain they can bring £2billion of that back, meaning the real cost of the project as it stands is really £63billion, not £56billion.
“We’ve also found out that despite HS2 Ltd failing a recent review, it has still been allowed to go ahead with the tendering process. All of this is likely to put the benefit-cost ratio below 1.5, the level at which new Chancellor Philip Hammond said he would give the project ‘very serious scrutiny’ when he was in charge of transport.
“Given all this, and the fact a post-Brexit HS2 would cost less, it would be irresponsible not to conduct a review of the project, before it is too late.”