MPs have urged the government to set a “realistic timetable” for delivering HS2 and clarify important details about its second phase and plans for the wider rail network.
In a report the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said “uncertainty remains” over how the high-speed rail link will work with the rest of the transport system.
It also says the estimate for Phase 2 of the project is “volatile” and “exceeds the funding by £7 billion”.
Phase one of HS2 is expected to be completed by around 2026. It will cut through Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire and reduce journey times between London and Birmingham by 32 minutes.
A second Y-shaped phase, taking the line to north-east and north-west England and beyond, is due to be completed by around 2032/33.
The report states "a great deal of work is still required" to integrate plans for HS2 with other rail investment proposals and the existing network.
A government spokesperson said the project was "on time and on budget".
Meg Hillier MP, chair of the PAC, said the government has promised significant benefits to taxpayers in return for their investment in HS2, which is expected to run to more than £55 billion.
“Parliament and the public are still in the dark about crucial details – not least when the railway will open, how much it is expected to cost and precisely where it will go,” said Hillier.
“The announcement at the weekend that HS2 Ltd chief executive Simon Kirby is leaving the company adds to the uncertainty enveloping a project on which strong and stable leadership is vital.
“Lack of clarity over plans for HS2 in South Yorkshire highlights what is at stake for communities and local economies, and why government must explain its intentions and the basis for its decisions in a transparent manner.
“The public must be confident the grand vision for HS2 does not blind the Government to the finer points which have implications for many people’s lives now and in the decades to come.”
The Government is due to announce its decision on certain routes this autumn and we the PAC has urged government to “seize this opportunity” to address the concerns set out in our Report.