“With the National Audit Office trashing the economic viability of Phase 1 HS2, the Government needs to rethink connectivity between Birmingham and London. It is now clear that the current formulation is not the answer” says Michael Fabricant.
“In a month’s time, the Oakervee Review will be published, but with just three months to prepare their report, its Chair, Douglas Oakervee, already made it clear they would not have time to consider alternative routes and proposals for the London-Birmingham link. Moreover, its Deputy Chair has already dismissed its conclusions as unrealistic and produced a comprehensive minority report. In any event, the Oakervee Review panel was stuffed with politicians and interested parties.
“The National Audit Office say that the current formulation of HS2 will generate just 80p of benefits for every £1 invested on Phase 1 and that the remaining part of the route is so underprepared, it is impossible to predict what the overall rate of return will be. In other words, HS2 makes no economic sense.
“So I am now recommending to Government and to Number 10 that they commission a full and independent engineering review by a respected firm of independent consulting engineers such as ARUP and give them sufficient time to explore alternative routes and solutions.
“I believe that the route from Birmingham southwards should aspire to greater connectivity. Rail connections should continue beyond London to Heathrow – the busiest airport in Europe – and directly to the Channel Tunnel and Europe. This was the original vision for HS2. It should not be necessary for passengers to change stations at the West Midlands’ busiest rail interchange, Birmingham New Street, nor in London in order to continue a journey to the continent. And serious questions need to be asked as to whether high speed tilting trains could be used on enhanced existing rail lines instead of constructing an environmentally damaging new line destroying local habitats.
“The costs are out of control and HS2 has been badly mismanaged. It cannot continue as it is.”