A leaked draft of the Oakervee review has recommended the go-ahead for the full HS2 project, despite the increase in costs.
The leaked document, co-authored by Douglas Oakervee, a former HS2 chairman, shows that all sections of the HS2 line should be built, according to the findings leaked to the Times.
However, whilst the review has recommended that the full HS2 project should proceed, the economic benefits have been downgraded; the review suggests running fewer trains each hour and the economic benefit has been downgraded by a notable amount.
Previously, it was predicted that the line would generate approximately £2.30 for every £1 spent; however, the review has found that the amount generated per £1 will now be in the range of £1.30 to £1.50.
The investigation found that, if only the first phase was built, which would stretch from London to Birmingham and is expected to be completed in 2026, the project would then actually provide less value for money, so it is important in that context that the full HS2 project goes ahead.
The independent review was commissioned in the summer by the Transport Secretary at the time, Grant Shapps, to look at whether or not the project should proceed or not, considering the benefits, impacts, affordability, deliverability and scope.
HS2 has been a controversial topic since it was announced and continues to divide opinion; not only are there environmental concerns, but the costs have spiralled.
Initially, the scheme was expected to cost in the region of £56 billion. But this has increased to almost £90 billion.
And the co-author of the review, Lord Berkeley – a prominent critic of HS2 who has asked for his name to be removed from the report – said that the benefit-cost ratio has been overestimated.
He also added that the report has excluded evidence that would see the costs increase to more than £100 billion.
The full report will be released after the General Election.