The chair of under-fire HS2 is undertaking a review of the project to “make sure the costs and budget are right and that it is deliverable,” transport secretary Chris Grayling has said.
HS2 has become a battleground among the Tories vying to replace Theresa May as Prime Minister, with some pledging to continue with the project and others vowing to scrap it.
“What we’ve got with HS2 is a new chairman in Allan Cook who is rightly taking his first period of the project to make sure it’s in good shape to make sure the budget is right, the costs are right and that it’s deliverable,” Grayling told the New Civil Engineer. “I’m really waiting for Allan [Cook] to come back to me to say this is how we’re going to take the project forward.
Cook was appointed as HS2 chair last December following the resignation of his predecessor Sir Terry Morgan in the wake of the news of the Crossrail delay.
Crossrail, also known as the £17.6bn Elizabeth Line, was originally scheduled to open last December but is now expected to open between October 2020 and March 2021.
An HS2 spokesperson said: “It is the job of the chairman and the board to keep the entire project under scrutiny, and they regularly report back to the department.”
Senior Tories who are known to be sceptical of HS2 include chief secretary to the Treasury Liz Truss, who pledged to make HS2 part of the Spending Review later this year, and the former leader of the House of Commons, Andrea Leadsom.
Last weekend Leadsom said the scheme was in need of an “urgent review”. Earlier in the year she wrote to HS2 chief executive Mark Thurston to query whether there was still a business case for HS2, following reports that management was considering reducing the speed of trains to lower costs.