September 29 2022, Kimpton Fitzroy London
Friday 30 September 2022, JW Marriott Grosvenor
21 November 2022, Hilton London Metropole
MPs have said they are “sceptical” about whether the government’s controversial HS2 project can deliver value for money for the taxpayer.
A report from the Commons Public Accounts Committee found the overall funding package of £50 million for HS2 includes a “generous contingency” which could be used to “mask cost overspends”.
The report questioned whether the government can deliver the project on time and on budget, saying ministers lack a “clear strategic plan”.
The cross-party group of MPs also said the government has not yet properly considered the impact on construction capacity, capability and costs by building HS2 and HS3 at the same time.
The HS2 project, which has come under fire from both political sides, would link London to Birmingham by 2026, with tracks to cities in the north of England including Leeds and Manchester, built by 2030.
Train journey times between two of the north of England’s biggest cities could be cut to 26 minutes if the so-called HS3 line is built.
"We are not convinced that these programmes are part of a clear strategic approach to investment in the rail network,” said chair of the Committee, Margaret Hodge.
The Labour MP added that the government has taken "a piecemeal approach to its rail investment, rather than considering what would benefit the system as a whole and prioritising its investment accordingly".
Hodge said it was "hugely important" to make properly-informed judgements. "Yet the government takes decisions without a clear strategic plan," she added.
A spokesman for the department for transport said: "It is the role of the public accounts committee to ask questions that major projects like HS2 need to address as they move from planning to delivery.
"This scrutiny is welcome. The report sets out some of those questions in detail and acknowledges that progress is being made."
The report also asked why the government has yet to publish proposals for how Scotland will benefit from the new high-speed rail project.