Oral Question on HS2 May 20th 2019
Lord Alton of Liverpool (CB)
My Lords, will the Minister return to the question asked by the noble Lord, Lord Howell of Guildford, and accept that most northerners would prefer to see prioritised east-west travel and the upgrading of infrastructure, which is dismal in the north of England? Will she respond specifically to the statement in the excellent report of the Economic Affairs Select Committee that the evidence suggests that northern powerhouse rail is required more urgently than High Speed 2, and that London, already the city expected to gain most from the project, will receive the benefits of the new railway long before the northern cities?
Baroness Vere of Norbiton
As I have already explained, we will respond to all the issues raised in the report in detail before the Summer Recess, and so I am not willing to go further on them right now. However, I will respond to the noble Lord’s question about investment in the north. It is absolutely critical. That is why we are investing £2.9 billion in the upgrade of trans-Pennine rail. The noble Lord also mentioned infrastructure. We intend to replace every single train operating in the north. We agree that the infrastructure needs an upgrade, and therefore we are replacing the trains.
Baroness Sugg, the Department for Transport, has provided the following answer to your written parliamentary question (HL12336):
Lord Alton of Lverpool Question:
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of reports that estimates of land and property costs for HS2 given to the House of Commons were wrong; and what estimate they have made of the actual costs. (HL12336)
Tabled on: 17 December 2018
The HS2 land and property budget has evolved as the programme has developed. The Government welcomed the National Audit Office (NAO) report in September 2018 into the HS2 Phase One property acquisition programme.
The report found that the property cost estimate had increased significantly from 2012 to 2017 and set out that this kind of change was to be expected on a large complex project such as HS2. The NAO noted that the increase included route changes as a result of public consultation, in response to the requests of petitioners during the parliamentary process leading up to Royal Assent and the introduction of additional property compensation schemes.
There is also the fact that detailed land cost assessments were not possible until after Royal Assent was achieved, and re-assessing land values from 2011 prices. The Government followed the correct process in terms of how it updated Parliament of the Phase One property costs.
As reported by the NAO, HS2 Ltd has forecasted that the cost to acquire land and property for Phase One of the route would be £3,356 million
Date and time of answer: 19 Dec 2018 at 12:45.
In 2015 I warned that HS2 would overspend and was a misuse of public money.
Last week The Sunday Times revealed that the Infrastructure and Projects Authority had found that that HS2 is “highly likely” to go as much as 60% over budget at a cost of “more than £8O million”; that the project is “fundamentally flawed” and in a “precarious position”.
I 2015 I argied that these funds should be used to improve existing infrastructure, including railway lines in the north of England, and commuter services.
This week I asked the Government whether they agree with the findings of the Infrastructure and Projects Authority that HS2 will have “a very high opportunity-cost impact across other government departments “ and that HS2 management has “lack of cohesion and common vision”
This week I received this reply from the Government:
Baroness Sugg, the Department for Transport, has provided the following answer…
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