Parliament 'misled' overs costs of HS2, says Lord Berkeley

Lord Berkeley has said he thinks parliament was misled about the costs of the HS2 project which is set to decimate Aylesbury Vale.

By Thomas Bamford
Monday, 6th January 2020, 9:37 am
Updated Monday, 6th January 2020, 9:56 am

Reports from over the weekend have also suggested the cost of the project could spiral to as much as £107bn.

Lord Tony Berkeley says parliament would never have agreed to the high-speed rail line, due to connect London with the North and the Midlands, had they not been "misled" - and estimates the costs could now be three times the original estimate.

He said: ""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."

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Lord Berkeley has said he thinks parliament was misled about the costs of the HS2 project which is set to decimate Aylesbury Vale.

Lord Berkeley, formerly Deputy Chair of the Oakervee Review commissioned by the Government to evaluate the future of HS2, has published his own report evaluating the status of HS2 and suggestions for its future.

He argues that HS2 is the wrong solution to the challenges of improving rail services in the Midlands and North, and that there are alternatives which are cheaper and quicker to implement and can provide commuters in these areas with better daily services.

Furthermore, he claims improvements to the lines to and from London can be delivered without building a new line and causing untold damage to businesses and residents as well as the environment.

Lord Berkeley said, “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.

"There is also substantial evidence of poor project management and governance, and no sign that this problem will be resolved by the public bodies responsible for its delivery to give stakeholders and Government comfort that it is wise to spend over £100bn on one railway project.”

Lord Berkeley suggests two options for the HS2 project:

- Recognise that the project is more than three times over budget and begin a process of approving a new budget for the HS2 project at an estimated cost of £107bn, with or without a reduced specification and accept that the benefit cost ratio will be substantially decreased.

-Build only the small parts of HS2 within the Northern Powerhouse area and cancel the other parts of it; commit to upgrading existing Network Rail lines in the NPH and Midlands Connect areas. This would deliver earlier benefits to local and regional services and save the Government around £50bn.

Lord Berkeley continues, “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 for Transport, it would have passed the legislation to allow this project to proceed. The inaccuracy of the figures given to Parliament are such that the project HS2 Ltd. is currently pursuing does not reflect the endeavour approved by Parliament.”