The HS2 rail link has been given an "unachievable" rating by the Infrastructure and Projects Authority (IPA), the government's independent watchdog for major infrastructure projects.
The IPA's annual report on major projects, gave the first two phases of HS2 - from London to Birmingham and from Birmingham to Crewe - a "red" rating. This means that the project is at risk of not being delivered on time, within budget, or to the required quality.
The IPA's report identified a number of factors that have contributed to HS2's poor rating, including:
- Cost overruns: The cost of HS2 has increased significantly since the project was first announced, from an original estimate of £56 billion to a current estimate of £106 billion.
- Delays: The opening date of the first phase of HS2 has been pushed back from 2026 to 2029, and the opening date of the second phase has been pushed back from 2032 to 2035.
- Project definition: The IPA has found that the project definition for HS2 is "incomplete and inconsistent". This has made it difficult to plan and deliver the project effectively.
The project has been beset by delays including the Phase 2b section from Birmingham to Crewe, which was announced earlier this year which has been delayed by 2 years. The line is not expected to reach Manchester until 2040. That section of the line was given an “amber” grading by the watchdog, with the “delivery of the project currently feasible but with significant issues.”
The government has said that it remains committed to the project. In a statement, the Department for Transport said: “Spades are already in the ground on HS2, with 350 construction sites, over £20bn invested to date and supporting over 28,500 jobs. We remain committed to delivering HS2 in the most cost-effective way for taxpayers.
“HS2 will bring transformational benefits for generations to come, improving connections and helping grow the economy.”
It was also announced recently that its current chief executive, Mark Thurston would be leaving his post after six years at the helm, with a new CEO expected to be in place in the autumn.
Photo Credit: HS2