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Thursday, July 25, 2024

HS2 Chief and Rail Minister to face Transport Committee on project’s future, cost overruns, and land sales

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The Executive Chair of HS2 Ltd and Rail Minister will face questions from the Transport Committee tomorrow (Thursday 30 September). The first time since the Birmingham to Manchester legs were scrapped.

Opening the session with a first panel of witnesses, the cross-party Committee will question Trevor Parkin and Trevor Gould, who have co-authored many technical papers relating to HS2 and alternative projects.

The witnesses will be asked about the Environmental Impact Assessments that were published alongside the ‘Hybrid Bill’, which was intended to give the Government powers to build the line between Manchester and Crewe. They will also be asked to comment on the number of train services that are likely to be feasible on the West Coast Mainline north of Birmingham once HS2 is completed, and what alternative rail enhancements the Government could invest in to improve services in this region.

In panel two, as well as seeking an update on construction milestones, the Minister and Executive Chair will be quizzed on what was known about the project’s cost overruns and when, as well as where responsibility for the failings lies.

There will be questions on what will be done with the £273 million of land that was acquired between Birmingham and Manchester for Phase 2a. Since the announcement about scrapping the line there have been calls for the land to safeguarded so that future governments could revisit Phase 2a without having to re-acquire the land.

MPs will want to hear about how the Government now plans to tackle track capacity issues on the network – once a key driver of HS2 – that currently hampers both freight and passenger flows.

There will also be questions about contingency plans for delivering the new station at Euston while there continues to be questions over finding private investment. MPs will be interested to hear what interest from investors has been received so far, and about how a new development corporation, as proposed by the Government, could lead the project.

There may also be questions about the possible costs of not progressing with Phase 2a, such as impacts on firms that have lost contracts and apprenticeships that are likely to be cancelled.

Witness schedule from 14:00
• Trevor Parkin, Environmental Consultant
• Trevor Gould, Business Consultant

From 14:30
• Huw Merriman MP, Minister for Rail and HS2
• Sir Jon Thompson, Executive Chair, HS2 Ltd 
• Alan Over, Director General, High Speed Rail Group and SRO for HS2

The session can be viewed live at Parliamentlive.tv

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