Adonis makes claim of plan to scrap HS2 eastern leg
LORD Adonis, the former Secretary of State for Transport who gave approval for HS2, claims that Government is trying to cancel the eastern leg of HS2.
As part of the ‘Y-shape’ design of HS2, the eastern leg is planned to run from Birmingham to Leeds via the East Midlands (with a station at Toton) and Sheffield.
Plans are for it to share tracks with Network Rail from the Chesterfield area into Sheffield, while trains will continue beyond Leeds but on the classic network.
But in a House of Lords debate on November 12, Adonis said: “The big concern I have at the moment is that, under the guise of a review, the Government is essentially seeking to indefinitely delay and quite possibly cancel the eastern leg of HS2.”
He claimed that while the Department for Transport wants work to proceed on the eastern leg, it was being thwarted by the Treasury and Dominic Cummings. The latter has since left his role as advisor to Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
And the former SoS also claimed that the reason there were separate Bills for the eastern and western legs of HS2 was to delay the former.
Adonis also accused Lord Berkeley of trying to delay the entire scheme by asking for an independent peer review into the new railway.
In the debate, Berkeley said: “What is needed is an independent opinion - independent of government, of HS2, and of the various contractors.”
He added: “I shall not say much more except to remind noble Lords that probably one of the most important things that I am focused on is costs.
“One HS2 executive, when asked why they had not been transparent on costs, memorably replied: ‘If we’d told Parliament the real costs, they’d probably have cancelled the project.’
“That is a very bad reason for going ahead with a project. I know Lord Adonis will say that I am trying to get it stopped, which I am not. I just think that it is time now to get a one-off, independent review so that Parliament and other people can then monitor progress and hold the Government and HS2 to account if they feel it necessary.”
Replying to Berkeley, Adonis said that HS2 “has been reviewed to death” and suggested that
claims the Oakervee Review was not independent were “a lot of complete nonsense”.
Adonis said of Berkeley: “He has consistently expressed an opinion that HS2 is a bad thing. He says that there should be an independent review, but he then says that it is very poor value for money and the costs - whatever they are at any given time - are spiralling out of control. He makes a series of assertions that, although he is perfectly entitled to make them, mostly do not correspond to the actual analysis by independent advisers. And he then calls for another review.
“The Oakervee review, which has just been concluded and on which the Government has decided to proceed, is the fifth major independent review of HS2 since I announced the scheme to Parliament in March 2010.
“What my noble friend Lord Berkeley is seeking to do is to kill the scheme by review. Indeed, I wish the minister would cancel the current review of the eastern leg, which is doing precisely what my noble friend wants to do - to review to death one-third of the scheme.”
During the same debate,
Lord Snape (Labour), a former railwayman, said of the concerns regarding the eastern leg: “There is a connectivity problem with HS2. If it were decided, wrongly, to truncate the eastern leg of HS2 somewhere in the East Midlands and presumably electrify the existing line so that HS2 trains will join the existing main line at some unspecified point in the
East Midlands, there would be an immediate connectivity problem.”
Baroness Vere also spoke of the need to change the way projects are discussed: “We have to wean ourselves off saying on day one:
‘It will cost £X billion and it will be finished on X date’.
“We have to come up with a different system that looks more at ranges of costs and schedules, because it is impossible to define such things from the start.”
Adonis: “The Government is seeking to indefinitely delay and quite possibly cancel the eastern leg of HS2.”
Berkeley: “It is time now to get a oneoff, independent review so that Parliament and other people can monitor progress.”