Critical report 'adds to case for switching HS2 route away from Mexborough'

A damning report into HS2 adds to the case for a review of the route through South Yorkshire, claims MP Ed Miliband.

Wednesday, 20th May 2020, 8:25 pm
Updated Tuesday, 26th May 2020, 6:03 pm

The high speed rail project has gone “badly off course”, according to the influential House of Commons public accounts committee.

The Government has been told it must be open on the issues faced by HS2 in a report from the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), which oversees Government spending, released this morning.

The report said evidence given by a Department for Transport (DfT) official and HS2 executives in March shed doubt on previous assurances of the scheme’s progression.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The HS2 consultation event at Mexborugh Pastures Hotel

Campaigners in Doncaster have been opposed to the route through Mexborough, known as the M18 route, claiming it should have gone along an originally proposed route, via Meadowhall.

After seeing the latest report, Mr Miliband, whose constitiency includes the Shimmer estate in Mexborough which will see homes demolised to make way for a viaduct, said: “This damaging report from the Public Accounts Committee only reinforces the need to look again at the HS2 route through South Yorkshire.

“We have been saying for years now that the M18 route is not the right choice for our area, value for money, connectivity or regeneration.

“Government needs to make good on its promise to look seriously at alternatives, including the HS North proposal put forward by local campaign groups.”

But a DfT spokesperson said: “The current Secretary of State has been clear that this project must go forward with a new approach to Parliamentary reporting, with clear transparency, strengthened accountability to Ministers, and tight control of costs.”

The PAC report said: “The High Speed Two programme has gone badly off-course and is now estimated to cost up to £88bn, significantly more than the original budget of £55.7bn (both figures are 2015 prices).

“We are unconvinced that there will not be further cost increases, such as those we have seen in Crossrail and many other programmes, especially given that the route and forecast cost of the northern sections of the proposed railway is still very uncertain and will remain so for years to come.”

It added that along with cost increases and delays, “public confidence in the programme has been undermined”.