“We support the strategic case for HS2 and stand by our conclusion that HS2 is needed to provide a long-term increase in the capacity of the railway and that alternative proposals to increase capacity are not sufficient to accommodate long-term forecast demand,” it said in its latest report on the project.
Having previously criticised the cost projections, the committee now says that the commonly used price tag of £50bn is misleading and that references to HS2 requiring a ‘blank cheque’ from government are ‘exaggerated’.
In fact, the committee reports, the cost of the new line is £28bn, excluding the £7.5bn to be spent on rolling stock.
DfT's communications about HS2 should emphasise that the estimated cost is £28bn for both phases, not £50 billion, and that cost increases to date have largely been due to the decision to undertake more tunnelling and other work to mitigate the impact of the project on people living near the route.
The committee also points out that the £28bn price tag only rose from last year’s £20bn estimate because of design improvements and additional tunnelling.
One of the committee’s recommendations is that: “Department for Transport's communications about HS2 should emphasise that the estimated cost is £28bn, not £50bn, and that cost increases to date have largely been due to the decision to undertake more tunnelling and other work to mitigate the impact of the project on people living near the route.”
So keen are the MPs on HS2 that they want to see the second phase, which takes the line north of Birmingham to Leeds and Manchester, brought forward from its current 2032/33 target opening date. They want new HS2 chairman David Higgins to explore the feasibility of building phase 2 at the same time as the London-Birmingham phase 1 section.
“We are convinced that it is essential for the UK for HS2 to go ahead, and to do so as a project which has the backing of all three major political parties,” the report concludes.
The full report can be read at: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmselect/cmtran/851/85105.htm#a3