The High Speed 2 (HS2) rail link should go ahead with minimal changes, according to recommendations from a draft report seen by the BBC
Leaked documents seen by the BBC and The Times suggest review chair Doug Oakervee’s draft and as-yet-undelivered report for the Department of Transport recommends minimal changes to the route and to the scale of the project.
It is understood, however, that the document urges key contracts to be retendered, branding the procurement process for the line’s first phase as ‘deeply flawed’.
The draft document is believed to echo findings from a recent stocktaking exercise undertaken by HS2 chair Allan Cook, which predicted that the scheme’s £56 billion budget would likely rise to £88 billion.
Retaining the controversial and costly stretch of track into a revamped Euston station is among the other recommendations.
The draft report also calls on the government to recommit to the principle of the full (Y-shaped) network, serving both sides of the Pennines.
However its contents have already been slammed by Tony Berkeley, the deputy chairman of the review into the high-speed rail scheme, who said in a letter to Oakervee on Monday (11 November) that he could not ’support its conclusions or recommendations’ and had ’serious problems with its lack of balance’.
It reads (see bottom): ’I detected a trend in many of the discussion within the review to accept that HS2 will go ahead, so that every effort should be made to minimise costs and maximise revenue, rather than look at the pros and cons of alternative options with a view to reducing costs but still giving as many benefits to those who need them most - the regions.’
Berkeley, who plans to publish his own version, added that he feared an even larger budget estimate of £103 billion was ’the most likely outturn cost’.
The Department of Transport insists it has yet to see any version of the report, adding: ‘Doug Oakervee had not finalised his report before the election was called, and no copy of this has been provided to the department. He will deliver it to the new government, and any views ahead of that are speculation.’
Design work has continued on the massive rail project despite the independent review.
Earlier his month, Moxon Architects revealed its designs for two viaducts for the rail line in the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, south of Aylesbury: the 450m-long Wendover Dean viaduct and the 315m-long Small Dean viaduct 1.2km to the north.
An HS2 spokesperson said: ’The government has been very clear to us that they don’t want to see any delay [to the construction programme] as a result of the Oakervee Review.
‘It’s business as usual. Design work is continuing, demolitions and site clearance are progressing and we’re hard at work setting up site compounds. The only thing delayed is ancient woodland clearance.’
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The huge project is being worked on by various architects and engineers. These include Grimshaw and Arup, which have designed two HS2 stations in the West Midlands and the Euston extension as part of the route’s intended first phase which was due to start running in 2026. Last year it emerged that Foster + Partners was working on designs for the proposed Leeds HS2 station.
In February, WilkinsonEyre and engineer WSP revealed new images of their proposed Old Oak Common HS2 and Crossail interchange, billed as the ‘best-connected rail station’ in the country. Four months later the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation (OPDC) warned that the wider area’s £1 billion development was ‘completely dependent on politicians nailing HS2’.
My HS2 letter to Doug Oakervee on the Review panel. pic.twitter.com/7xR9GDYFhA— tony berkeley (@tonyberkeley1) November 13, 2019