A Commons Select Committee looking at the Government’s HS2 high-speed rail project has commissioned an independent review into the US$52bn scheme rather than just relying on written and verbal evidence, it has been announced. From the independent consultants Oxera, the review is due to be published as the House of Commons Transport Committee holds the first of five evidence sessions on HS2.
The review focuses on the business case for HS2 whose first part – from London to Birmingham is due to be completed in 2026 and includes substantial stretches of large diameter tunnel constructed by TBM and SCL.
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A second Y-shaped section on to Manchester and Leeds and possibly further north could be finished around 2032/33.
Announcing the Oxera review, the House of Commons transport committee chairman Louise Ellman said: “The review is a guide for us. We felt we needed it. This is a project of great importance and also of great controversy.”
The coalition Government is anxious to press ahead with HS2, which is the central plank of its whole transport policy.
“We want the review to look at some of the technical assumptions about the Government’s case for HS2, Mrs Ellman said.
The inquiry will not look at the precise specification of the HS2 route which passes through beauty spots in traditional Tory heartlands.
The committee will also not look at how the route will affect landowners, businesses and residents.
But it will investigate if the project is justified on cost grounds, whether the passenger numbers add up, whether the project will lead to a modal shift from road to rail and whether other schemes might be more appropriate.