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HS2 put under review, decision promised by year-end

By Josh White

Date: Wednesday 21 Aug 2019

HS2 put under review, decision promised by year-end

(Sharecast News) - The future of the HS2 high-speed rail project was thrown into some doubt on Wednesday, as the government announced a review with the promise of a "go or no-go" decision by the end of the year.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the review would look at whether the project, designed to better connect London with the Midlands and the North of England, should proceed, and if it does, how.

Despite the fact that billions of pounds had already been spent on HS2, Shapps refused to rule out cancelling the project in its entirety, saying the review was needed to see whether the benefits did "stack up".

"Just because you've spent a lot of money on something does not mean you should plough more and more money into it," he told media.

The review would be chaired by civil engineer Douglas Oakervee, who was previously the chair of HS2 Ltd - the non-departmental government body charged with delivering the project.

His deputy would be Labour peer Lord Berkeley, who worked as a civil engineer on the Channel Tunnel and has previously voiced his criticism of the HS2 project.

Bidding consortium 'ALIGN', which consists of Bouygues Travaux Publics, Sir Robert McAlpine, and VolkerFitzpatrick, had been awarded some of the flagship civil works of the project thus far.

Earlier this month, the Department for Transport announced that a joint venture between FTSE 250 passenger transport operator FirstGroup and Italian state railway operator Trenitalia would operate services on HS2, as part of its winning of the West Coast Partnership rail franchise.

Grant Shapps said he wanted those conducting the review to report back with the cold facts.

"Go and find out all the information that's out there," he said, adding that he wanted to know "genuinely what it would cost to complete this project, and then we'll be in a much better position to make that decision - go or no-go by the end of the year."

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