The government has launched an independent review into the HS2 programme, Grant Shapps has announced.
The Transport Secretary published the terms of reference and timetable for this independent review, which will consider the viability of the project.
HS2, which is intended to link the capital city to Birmingham via a new railway by 2026, and then later the North and potentially Scotland, has been the subject of much debate and criticism since its inception.
Critics feel it will have an adverse impact on the environment and the costs will be too high, whilst supporters point to the economic benefits of connecting the country with a high speed rail link.
This is one of the biggest infrastructure projects in Europe and the independent review – led by Douglas Oakervee – will undertake a through and objective assessment of the project, supported by a panel of experts from business, academia and the transport sector.
The review will investigate whether or not HS2 should proceed, considering the project’s benefits and impacts, affordability and efficiency, deliverability and scope; and its phasing, including the relationship with Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR).
Previously, the Prime Minister has been urged to back HS2, but Boris Johnson is concerned that the costs could run to more than £100 billion.
And this is why, Mr Shapps said, the review is necessary.
He said: “The Prime Minister has been clear that transport infrastructure has the potential to drive economic growth, redistribute opportunity and support towns and cities across the UK, but that investments must be subject to continuous assessment of their costs and benefits.
“That’s why we are undertaking this independent and rigorous review of HS2.
“Douglas Oakervee and his expert panel will consider all the evidence available, and provide the department with clear advice on the future of the project.”
The report will be sent to the government by the autumn.