HS2: Dennis Skinner, Do I want to get to London 30 minutes quicker.

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The Beast of Bolsover at his best, £120 Billion pound to get to London 30 minutes earlier. If you need to get to London 30 minutes earlier try getting up 30 minutes earlier.

Last year Dennis Skinner was at his best, asking questions of the inflated price of HS2 from 30 Billion to over 100 Billion. He asked the fundamental question: “Could I spend that money in a different way? And the answer is yes, every time!”

It is to be believed the government will give the go-ahead for the entire High Speed 2 (HS2) rail line to be built today.

An announcement on the rail project linking London to Birmingham and Manchester and Leeds is expected by Boris Johnson on Tuesday.

HS2 has been hailed as the “biggest infrastructure decision since World War Two” but the estimated cost of building the high-speed railway could be spent on better projects. Connecting the East west transpennine routes would be

From the launch of the HS2 project in 2009/10, its most glaring deficiency – the inability of
the proposed HS2 ‘Y-network’ to offer any improved transpennine link between Northern
cities – caused immense concern amongst regional political and business leaders.

It was perfectly obvious that a system which only provided high speed links from Northern cities to London, and which failed to interlink Northern cities, could only have the effect of
sucking economic activity out of the North, and exacerbating the North-South Divide.

The launch in 2014 of then-Chancellor George Osborne’s Northern Powerhouse initiative
was intended to address these connectivity concerns. ‘HS3’ transpennine high speed rail
links would interconnect Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield, Leeds, Hull and Newcastle, and
thus complement HS2.

A comprehensive and exacting specification was established by the ‘One North’ group of city councils; this included the key requirements for radically reduced journey times and for a single new east-west transpennine railway, fully integrated with the north-south HS2. And with this transformed connectivity, the promised ‘Northern Powerhouse’ should come about

This at least was the theory; the reality has turned out to be somewhat different. Under the
leadership of Transport for the North (TfN), ‘HS3’ has been descoped to a programme of
‘Northern Powerhouse Rail’ upgrades, with only limited new-build proposed, and every
attempt made to utilise sections of HS2 as part of the new intercity routes.

Accordingly, the Liverpool-Manchester link will follow HS2’s Manchester spur running via Manchester Airport, and the Sheffield-Leeds link will follow part of the HS2 route in Yorkshire.Regrettably, no-one in authority appears to have recognised the illogicality of basing HS3/Northern Powerhouse Rail – whose core rationale is the improvement of east-west transpennine connectivity – upon sections of HS2, which were designed to exclusively north-south priorities, with no thought for transpennine connectivity.

How much time will passengers save from HS2?

Source: Department for Transport (November 2016)

Government go-ahead

The Government stated: ‘While the whole line will be built, the government will seek a review of the second phase covering the North.

It hopes it will identify cost savings as well as integrating these lines into the existing railways.

A source close to the project has confirmed that Boris Johnson will also announce a series of other transport projects on Tuesday.

Some of them will be situated in the north of England and the Midlands as part of the government’s manifesto promise to “level up” the UK by investing more in regions outside of London.

Supporters of the HS2 project say it will cut overcrowding on the railways and help to rebalance the UK’s economy.

But it has faced criticism from both Labour and Conservative MPs for being over budget and behind schedule.

Dennis Skinner giving his view of HS2 to his constituents

Over budget and it wont get cheaper

In 2015, it was estimated that the cost would be £56bn, but a review has warned that it could rise to as much as £106bn.

As recently as six months ago, while Theresa May was still Prime Minister, Nusrat Ghani, her HS2 minister, told the Commons: “I stand here to state confidently that the budget is £55.7 billion.” Chris Grayling, who was sacked as Transport Secretary by Mr Johnson, had also insisted that the budget would not rise, saying: “I am very clear on HS2; it’s got a budget and it’s got to live with that budget.”

The decision to approve the HS2 high-speed rail project was based on cost estimates that were hundreds of millions of pounds too low, a former senior staff member of the company has claimed.

Doug Thornton told the BBC’s Panorama programme the company had misled MPs about a project whose budget spiralled from an original estimate of £34bn to £56bn amid leaked Treasury worries that the eventual cost will be more than £100bn.

Thornton said he was “appalled” that inaccurate estimates about purchasing land needed for the project could be put forward in a “such a loose and slapdash fashion”.

“There was a gap of almost 100% in terms of the wrong numbers of properties that the organisation had not budgeted for,”

Thornton said HS2’s management ignored warnings about the faulty estimates, before he left his post. Another whistleblower told Panorama that HS2 was using higher estimates about the cost of land than MPs had when they voted to approve the project.

HS2 denied it misled parliament and insisted it followed the correct procedures for updating MPs on the changing budget.

Why have the costs and timetable slipped so far off track?

An excuse of being of being over-optimistic in the first place have been given, however

the National Audit Office has warned in successive reports over a number of years that HS2 had an “unrealistic timetable”.

In its most recent analysis, it said that the risks of the project were never properly assessed when initial costs were estimated.

HS2 began under the Labour government in 2009, but the cost has continued to balloon under subsequent administrations.

Work to prepare the ground for the first phase of HS2 linking London and Birmingham has been going on for years. But a green light from the government means construction of the railway will begin relatively soon.

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