HS2

08.01.19

Concerns raised over HS2 as Treasury chief warns government must be prepared to scrap ‘white elephant’ projects

Chief secretary to the Treasury Liz Truss has warned that HS2 could be scrapped as she said the government must be prepared to “junk white elephant” projects after Brexit.

Truss is leading a major government spending review this year and says she is examining “all major investment projects” funded by Whitehall to judge their contribution to the nation’s prosperity.

Speaking to the Sunday Telegraph, she warned that ministers must be prepared to pull the plug on big flagship projects with spiralling costs rather than sit back and allow “mission creep.”

The Treasury secretary stated she wanted to weed out programmes that were failing, had become outdated, or had diverged from their original mission, adding that day-to-day spending would be reviewed using new criteria to ensure the best results.

The comments come as HS2 – which will link London to the Midlands, Leeds and Manchester by high-speed rail – balloons in cost, with officials fearing the project could well exceed its £56bn budget.

Last month, its chairman Sir Terry Morgan resigned from his post after controversial delays and spiralling costs to his other major rail project Crossrail had reportedly caused the government to doubt his ability to deliver HS2.

Campaigners and some MPs have heavily criticised the flagship project and called for it to be scrapped, and a few weeks ago a whistleblower revealed that the land cost estimate given to MPs before they approved HS2 was “enormously wrong.”

Liz Truss said: “In reviewing this evidence, we must be prepared to junk the white elephants, the programmes that haven't worked, and roll back mission creep, where government involves itself in areas the private sector can deliver.

“Growth and bang-for-buck must take precedence.”

Truss cautioned that Brexit meant that “people won’t want powers being handed back from bureaucrats in Brussels to be given to bureaucrats in Britain,” and said politicians “must heed the demand” of Leave voters.

“Of course it needs to provide essential services, public goods and defence of the realm.

“But when decisions do have to be taken, it should be by those who are accountable to the electorate, not unelected quangos.”

Image credit -  unreguser/Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

Comments

There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

 

rail technology magazine tv

more videos >

latest rail news

Dawlish railway may be ‘moved out to sea’ to protect it from storms under new proposals

13/06/2019Dawlish railway may be ‘moved out to sea’ to protect it from storms under new proposals

The storm-battered Dawlish rail line could be “moved out to sea” and away from the “hazard” of the cliffs under new plans... more >
TfL awards contract for new DLR fleet to replace 30-year-old trains

12/06/2019TfL awards contract for new DLR fleet to replace 30-year-old trains

TfL has awarded a contract for 43 new trains to replace the oldest rolling stock on the Docklands Light Railway (DLR), with the first scheduled t... more >
Hitachi trains for Happy trains

10/06/2019Hitachi trains for Happy trains

ScotRail project manager Kirsty Devlin discusses the withdrawal of Class 365s, to be replaced with the brand-new Class 385 fleet. While Scot... more >

editor's comment

23/01/2018Out with the old...

Despite a few disappointing policy announcements, especially for the electrification aficionados amongst us, 2017 was, like Darren Caplan writes on page 20, a year generally marked by positive news for the rail industry. We polished off the iconic Ordsall Chord (p32), hit some solid milestones on Thameslink (p40), progressed on ambitious rolling stock orders (p16), and finally started moving forward on HS2 (p14) ‒ paving the way for a New Ye... read more >

last word

Encouraging youngsters to be safe on the railway

Encouraging youngsters to be safe on the railway

This summer, Arriva Group's CrossCountry and the Scout Association joined to launch a new partnership to promote rail safety among young people. Chris Leech MBE, business community manager at the... more > more last word articles >

'the sleepers' daily blog

Apprentice to Co-leading the Rail Sector Deal

05/06/2019Apprentice to Co-leading the Rail Sector Deal

In a series of Q&A’s with key speakers on the run up to TransCityRail Midlands, we caught up with TransCityRail panellist and Amey’s commercial account director, Anna Delvecchio, for her insight into what the Rail Sector Deal means for the rail industry and its supply chain. Anna started her career as an apprentice at the age o... more >
read more blog posts from 'the sleeper' >

comment

Hitachi trains for Happy trains

10/06/2019Hitachi trains for Happy trains

ScotRail project manager Kirsty Devlin discusses the withdrawal of Class 365s, to be replaced with the brand-new Class 385 fleet. While Scot... more >
Malcolm Holmes on new stations for the Black Country

10/06/2019Malcolm Holmes on new stations for the Black Country

Malcolm Holmes, executive director of the West Midlands Rail Executive, described the new stations set to be built for the Black Country region o... more >
The skills bottleneck: Dealing with growing apprenticeship demand

10/06/2019The skills bottleneck: Dealing with growing apprenticeship demand

Richard Turner, head of apprenticeships at Network Rail, details the reasons for growing apprenticeship demand in the rail sector over the coming... more >
A train journey on the Midland Main Line 15 years from now…

10/06/2019A train journey on the Midland Main Line 15 years from now…

Chris Hobson, director of policy and external affairs at the East Midlands Chamber, talks in detail about what travelling through the region will... more >

rail industry focus

View all News

interviews

Advancing the rail industry with management degree apprenticeships

08/05/2019Advancing the rail industry with management degree apprenticeships

In answering the pressing questions of how current and future generations of managers can provide solutions to high-profile infrastructure projec... more >