RUMOURS are growing that HS2 is about to be given fresh approval, even if timescales have lengthened and costs have almost doubled.
Chancellor Sajid Javid met the Prime Minister before the weekend, and it was reported that the Treasury will support the project.
While the key Oakervee Review of the project is awaited, Network Rail chief executive Andrew Haines is also understood to have warned that that alternative upgrades to existing main lines, which are virtually full already, could take almost 30 years, and that there would have to be regular and disruptive weekend possessions on the East Coast Main Line alone until the 2040s unless HS2 is built.
Speculation that a thumbs-up for the high speed project is imminent has been fuelled by the Prime Minister. Speaking on Sky News, Boris Johnson told a 10-year old interviewer that ‘in a hole the size of HS2, the only thing to do is keep digging’.
However, Mr Johnson also criticised the project’s management as ‘hopeless’ in the same interview, accusing them of wasting money and leaving ‘a mess’.
Not everyone is in favour of HS2, including the now routine opposition from campaign groups such as StopHS2 and also continuing criticism from Lord Berkeley, who had been Douglas Oakervee’s deputy until almost all the review team, including Lord Berkeley, were stood down at the start of November, leaving Mr Oakervee and DfT officials to complete their research unaided.
The Government is still declining to say when the Oakervee findings will be made public. Mr Johnson has only told MPs that the decision will be made ‘very shortly’.