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HS2 delivery ‘in doubt’ – Major Projects Authority

The successful delivery of HS2 is in doubt as the government’s Major Projects Authority (MPA) rates the scheme as amber/red in its latest assessment.

The annual report from the MPA for 2014-15 detailed the costs and progress of all major government projects and rated them using a traffic light scheme. It found that 112 major projects in 2014 were in danger of failing and only 76 were considered likely to succeed.

In its 2014 assessment HS2 was rated amber/red, which the MPA defines as: “Successful delivery of the project/programme is in doubt with major risks or issues apparent in a number of key areas. Urgent action is needed to ensure these are addressed, and whether resolution is feasible.”

The government has also published reports from the MPA from 2011 and 2012 that are critical of HS2 after losing an FOI request battle to prevent their publication.

Both reports also rate the project as amber/red and the 2012 report listed ‘significant risks’ including a “coordinated campaign by concerned stakeholders that prevents access for essential survey activities” that could delay the Hybrid Bill or cause information gaps which would delay passage of the Royal Assent.

The MPA was also concerned about establishing an “appropriate understanding of the resolution of the affordability challenge” between the Department of Transport and the Treasury, and taking the project to deliver phase with effective governance.

Commenting on the governance arrangements, the review team said: “There is a risk that insufficient delegations to HS2 Ltd may lead to micromanagement, additional costs and delay. In addition, lack of clarity of reserved matters for DfT risk unsatisfactory outcomes for the Client.”

The 2011 report expressed concerns over the readiness of the project to move into the development phase and the timetable through to Royal Assent in 2015, describing it as “extremely challenging”.

It stated: “The Review Team has significant concerns over the readiness of the project to move into the development phase, subject to a positive decision, in particular the immaturity of the governance and management arrangements necessary for the development phase.”

The latest MPA report said its forecast lifetime costs remained steady at around £42.6bn in 2014.

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email


Fg   27/06/2015 at 01:43

Isn't it about time the Govt., stopped spending money on this very costly and dubious project! Far better to spend money on improving and developing what we already have.

Lutz   27/06/2015 at 11:52

Sounds like there are risks of a rushed job, and corners getting cut. Also wonder if it really can be delivered within the claimed GBP 50 Billion target; I have no confidence that it can without expensive follow-on works.

Lesf   29/06/2015 at 00:19

Fg, we need much more than "improving and developing what we already have". We will almost certainly need new tracks northwards from London, but not HS2 because it's wrong on every parameter. If you mean new tracks integrated with the rail network, then you're on the right lines. Lutz, your suspicion is correct; HS2 would (if we were foolish enough to embark on it) need extensive works to connect to it that are "someone else's problem".

John   30/06/2015 at 16:43

No surprises here. Patrick McLoughlin has steadfastly refused to admit that he's wrong in that the business case is NOT proved and the breakdown of costs to show just how much the Lawyers, Accountants and Consultants are planning to cream off.

Geordie   01/07/2015 at 14:12

For God's sake, let's not waste any more money on a project that makes zero business sense. These things have a habit of spiralling out of control, cost-wise. Nip it in the bud now!

Fg   02/07/2015 at 03:18

Lesf - Yes, that's exactly what I mean. For example: 1. Re-establishing a Manchester/Stockport - St Pancras service (relieving the WCML of, say, one train per hour) initially via the Dore chord but later by reconnecting Peak Forest to Matlock and regaining the Midland main line for through journeys and providing direct services from M/c to Derby, Leicester, etc. 2. Re-establishing the ex GC line from Marylebone to Manchester to Sheffield, maybe making it the preferred route for freight. 3. Giving the city of Ripon back its railway station (is this the only British city not rail connected?). 4. Relaying the 12m of track between Skipton and Colne, thus providing another much needed cross Pennine route as well as serving the communities en route. 5. Exploring the possibility of re-opening Oxford to Princess Risborough (the shortest route between Oxford and London) to put Thame back on the railway map and possibly provide a Park and Ride site where it crosses the M40. 6. Re-establishing the Rugby and Weedon routes to Leamington Spa. 7. Re-establishing station stops on the Stockport to Altrincham line which once more carries a passenger service to Chester but does not stop. 8. Reconnecting preserved lines to the network (like the Langollen Railway) where most visitors would obviously prefer to travel there by train. 9. Providing longer trains on trans-Pennine and Cross Country services which are incredibly overcrowded at busy times. These and many other desireable investments would rate more highly with me than HS2 which, if built, would cause grievous disruption to those living along its route but who would be unable to use it, some of whom lost their local rail services in the 1960s, e.g. in Warwicks and Bucks as in (6) above. I guess others will have similar lists of pet projects they would like to see revived in preference to building the ultra expensive HS2. I realise that in some cases routes may be partially built over but most if not all will be recoverable for a fraction of HS2 costs where no route at all exists.

Geordie   02/07/2015 at 13:28

Agree with all of above. But Ripon is not a city. It has a cathedral but that does not make it a city. It needs a royal charter for that.

Fg   02/07/2015 at 23:40

Geordie - Well the NER had a loco named 'CITY OF RIPON'. Was this a mistake?

Geordie   06/07/2015 at 18:38

yep; there's even a sign in Ripon saying "city centre". But, sadly wrong again. Lovely area though, and sadly short of rail links

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