15 September 2016
MPs demand realistic timetable for HS2
Ministers must set out an accurate schedule for delivering the High Speed 2 rail project, MPs are warning.
The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) is "not convinced" the target for completing phase 1 between London and the West Midlands by December 2026 will be met.
The Department for Transport (DfT) is requesting HS2 Ltd, the company responsible for building the £55.7 billion railway, to assess the impact of delaying the opening until December 2027.
The PAC report warns cost estimates for phase 2 - taking the line to Crewe (2a) and to Manchester and Leeds (2b) - are "still volatile" and exceed available funding by £7 billion.
The committee expresses doubts that proposed savings of £9 billion can be made "without adversely affecting the benefits of the programme".
Labour MP and chair of the committee, Meg Hillier, said: "Parliament and the public are still in the dark about crucial details - not least when the railway will open, how much it is expected to cost and precisely where it will go."
Ms Hillier is demanding the Government to explain its intentions and the basis for its decisions in a transparent manner.
A DfT spokesperson said: "The Government is fully committed to HS2 and the project is on time and on budget.
"We are keeping a tough grip on costs, and pressing ahead with plans for phase 2, with further details due to be announced this autumn."