Lord Berkeley has said Parliament was “seriously mislead” over the true costs of HS2, claiming the cost of the line is “completely out of control”
According to the deputy chair of the project’s review panel, HS2 would be “poor value for money” and damaging to the environment.
Lord Berkeley published a 70-page dissenting report into the HS2 detailing several concerns about the viability of the project.
While costs are at the top of his concerns, Lord Berkeley also states that the high speed rail would not benefit the north and the Midlands, contrary to belief.
In comments to Sky News, Lord Berkeley said he wrote the report as he disagreed with some conclusions of the draft report overseen by former HS2 Ltd chair, Doug Oakervee.
HS2 is the wrong and expensive solution
In the report, Berkely said: “I believe that Parliament has been seriously misled by the failure of HS2 Ltd. and by ministers to report objectively and fairly on costs and programme changes.
“Parliament needs one firm figure for the funding envelope at the time when it gives formal approval to cancel or amend a project without wasting large sums of money. If this figure is exceeded at any stage of the project, then ministers must seek a new approval from parliament on the higher figure at a time before it is too late to cancel”
He added: “I conclude that HS2 is the wrong and expensive solution to ‘making it faster and easier to travel for work and leisure2’ by providing better North-South intercity services (which are already good) but not within and around the NPH and MC areas where services are very much worse and demand very much greater.”
A Department for Transport (DfT) spokesman, said: “The government commissioned the Oakervee review to provide advice on how and whether to proceed with HS2, with an independent panel representing a range of viewpoints. Lord Berkeley‘s report represents his personal view.”
Midlands Connect director, Maria Machancoses, said: “Lord Berkeley’s suggestion that the government should consider building only small sections of HS2 in the north of England shows a disgraceful ignorance of how important the scheme is to the Midlands.
“Our region of more than ten million people stands to benefit the most from HS2, yet we are consistently squeezed out of the debate. HS2 must be delivered in full.
“Contrary to Lord Berkeley’s view that the benefits of HS2 have been overstated, I believe firmly that they have been vastly underestimated. During the official Oakervee Review, Midlands Connect and our partners submitted swathes of compelling new evidence showing that integrating HS2 with existing networks can bring vast improvements to journeys for millions of people.”
Machancoses added: “HS2 is the best way of levelling up the country and unleashing our potential. There are no ‘shovel ready’ alternatives that could transform our rail network in the same way, provide the extra capacity we so desperately need and contribute to our low-carbon transport future.
“It is disingenuous to suggest that the government could upgrade existing lines in the Midlands and the North without HS2. Our £3.5bn Midlands Engine Rail proposals are fully integrated with HS2, as is Northern Powerhouse Rail, and we have said repeatedly that neither scheme can be fully realised without delivering HS2 in its entirety.”
A HS2 Ltd spokesman commented: “There have been many individual views expressed about the HS2 project. However, we await the publication of the government’s official review.”