HS2 under fire again – this time from Treasury Committee report

BELEAGUERED high-speed rail project HS2 has faced yet more criticism, this time from an influential committee of MPs.

Members of the Treasury Committee have expressed serious doubts about whether the project – which would link Birmingham and London via 225mph high-speed trains from 2026 and bring Leeds and Manchester into the loop six years later – offers value for money.

The Government says it remains committed to the project but criticism – usually centred around the potential for spiralling costs and questions about HS2’s value to the UK economy – has come from a diverse range of groups and people including the Institute of Directors and senior Labour politicians Alistair Darling and Peter Mandelson.

And shadow chancellor Ed Balls has hinted Labour might ditch the project over its cost if the party regains power.

Members of the Treasury Committee said there were “serious shortcomings” in the current cost-benefit analysis for HS2.

They said the economic case must be looked at again.

The committee’s report called for a more convincing case for HS2 from the Treasury.

“We need reassurance that it can deliver the benefits intended and that those benefits are greater than those of other transport schemes – whether in the department’s project pipeline or not – which may be foregone,” it said.

The MPs said the Government should formally reassess the project.

However, a recent report for HS2 Ltd carried out by accountancy firm KPMG found the project could boost the UK economy by £15bn a year.