The North Should Not Miss Out on HS2

The costs of the high-speed railway that link the North of London to Birmingham and Manchester has come under even more scrutiny. The committee of the House of Lords has said that the costs are spiralling out of control while the appraisal of the project by the Department for Transport is flawed.

As a result, a call has been made for a re-evaluation of the project after it was claimed by former chairman of HS”, Sir Terry Morgan, that nobody knows what the final cost will be.

The Lords has said that the method of appraisal used for large infrastructure projects is no longer fit for purpose. While the main justification of HS2 is to improve and enhance the capacity on the rail network, it is claimed that the DfT is focusing more on its speed.

The committee has also claimed that investment should be focused on the rail network in the north of England while it was concerned that the project will run out of sufficient funds long before the northern sections are built.

So, the committee has made it clear that the plans for the Northern Powerhouse Rail should merge with the plans associated with the northern section of HS2. They also claimed that the funding for the project should be ringfenced making it possible for rail investment to be prioritised in those areas that require it the most.

Lord Forsyth of Drumlean, the committee chair has said that the costs are no longer under control and that it is surprising that the government has now followed through with a thorough assessment of proposals as a way of reducing the overall cost of HS2. This could involve lowering the speed or terminating in West London instead of Euston – a recommendation made in 2015 by the committee.

Commuter services in the north are suffering from overcrowding and they are using old trains and the connections between major cities in the north are poor. So, the rail infrastructure in the north should become an investment priority for the government instead of attempting to improve the links between the south and the north. Effectively, the north is missing out because of the current plans, particularly as construction on HS2 is beginning in the south.

Deborah Lillis

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