The Government still doesn’t know what its plans for High Speed 2 (HS2) station at Euston are according to a new parliamentary committee report.
The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said that HS2 should use the pause in construction which was announced in March to establish the design and the expectations against what it is willing to spend.
The report also recommends that the Department for Transport (DfT) be much clearer on budget and reevaluate how it will be costed after calling the original budget “completely unrealistic”. It also asked for greater transparency in the six-monthly updates to parliament after it found that the DfT had not disclosed the risks that construction costs could be significantly higher than expected.
Dame Meg Hillier MP, chair of the committee, said: “The HS2 Euston project is floundering. This is a multi-billion pound scheme which has already caused major disruption to the local community put on pause. The pause, ostensibly to save money, is not cost free – mothballing and possible compensation for businesses which have lost work will all need to be added to the HS2 tally. The Government must now be clear what it is trying to achieve with this new station, and how it will benefit the public.”
The costing woes and lack of planning on how to deal with rising inflation were also criticized. The initial budget for the project was £2.6 billion however by June 2020 had risen to £4.4 billion before rising further still to £4.8 billion by this year.
The report criticized HS2’s lack of planning and co-operation with the Treasury for the rising costs experienced on the HS2 Euston budget and asked for HS2 and the Treasury to work towards an understanding on how to absorb the swings in costs of raw materials.
Dame Hiller added: “Our report finds that a wildly unrealistic budget for HS2 Euston was set in 2020 in the expectation that it would be revised. The Government must demonstrate that that it is not just repeating the same mistakes of unrealistic costings. HS2 Euston has shown us that forging ahead over-optimistically in an unclear direction is clearly not the right approach.”
Image Credits: HS2
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