Fresh calls to scrap HS2 amid 'out of control' costs - The Leamington Observer

Fresh calls to scrap HS2 amid 'out of control' costs

Leamington Editorial 6th Jan, 2020   0

FRESH calls have been made for HS2 to be scrapped after the deputy chair of its review panel hit out at the spiralling cost.

Lord Berkeley was on the panel of the Oakervee review, a report requested by government but withdrew his backing after saying he and other panel members were prevented from contributing to the final draft, which he claims was influenced by HS2 promoters.

Ahead of the review’s findings being published, Lord Berkeley has released his own report into the controversial line, arguing there was overwhelming evidence the costs of HS2 were out of control and its benefits overstated.

The Labour peer said the high-speed line – 54 kilometres of which will cut through Warwickshire – is likely to cost over £108bn and he believed MPs had been misled about the original £55billion cost stated in 2015.

HS2 is set to link northern England and London, with trains between the capital and Birmingham due to start running in 2029.

But Lord Berkeley claims it would be at least two years after that.

Campaigners say it is the latest blow for the project and are calling for it to be cancelled.

Joe Rukin, who helped set up the HS2 protest camp in Crackley Woods, said: “This report leaves HS2 so irrevocably damaged there can surely be no choice left but to cancel it. Lord Berkeley has demonstrated everything we have been saying is true – the costs have been deliberately understated meaning parliament was misled, the benefits were invented to try and con the public. This was about more than satisfying the vested commercial interests who have been running their own gravy train.

“The environmental damage has been deliberately understated to greenwash the whole thing, people have been having their homes, land and businesses snatched for fractions of their value to cover-up the incompetence of HS2 estimations of costs, and not only is HS2 years behind schedule, but delivering the promised number of trains at the specified speeds, the entire supposed purpose of HS2, isn’t actually possible.

“This report shows HS2 is beyond scandal, this report shows HS2 is nothing more a decade long, calculated exercise to ignore the evidence, dismiss all criticism, bury the truth and defraud the taxpayer. HS2 must be cancelled immediately.”

The Observer has requested a response from the Department for Transport.

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