The fast-approaching release of the Oakervee Review into HS2 has been thrown into confusion after a copy of the report was leaked, indicating that the cost of HS2 could rise to £106 billion. As of last summer, the original budget was £55.7 billion and this including an array of contingency margins.
However, the figure then went up to £78 billion when the new figure was revealed by the transport secretary Grant Shapps. To add to the misery, the construction timetable, which also included the opening of Phase 1 between London and Birmingham in 2026 was not likely to happen and these dates were then altered so that the project could be delivered in stages between 2028 and 2031.
Boris Johnson commissioned the Oakervee Review but a copy has been leaked and it apparently shows a small level of support for the HS2 scheme while also making recommendations that relate to the Phase 2 beyond Birmingham whereby it should be put on hold while other options, such as replacing HS2 with classic lines towards Manchester and Leeds are considered.
At the moment, the future of the project still hangs in the balance as 15 Conservative MPs are pushing for the project to be permanently abandoned. Despite this, Claire Walker, the co-executive director of policy at the British Chambers of Commerce has said that the project has to go ahead.
She believes that the project unites business communities and that the project as a whole will bring with it significant changes to the business in the north. Along with this, many of the big construction companies are warning the Prime Minister that abandoning the project will bring with it terrible consequences whereby the industry would suffer from irreparable damage and it could hold back any growth that the industry would have seen in any of the regions. Several days ago, Grant Shapps made it clear that the future of HS2 and the decision should be expected very soon while the end of January will see the release of the HS2 progress report from the National Audit Office.