Review into project due to report this autumn

The lobbying campaign to make sure HS2 is not scrapped has begun with consultants and contractors telling those leading a review into the project not to pull the plug.

A review was announced yesterday by newly appointed transport secretary Grant Shapps who said it would look at costs and benefits of the £56bn scheme.

The review is being headed by former HS2 chair Doug Oakervee and will deliver a verdict on the scheme's fate by November.

The first phase of HS2, which will run between London and Birmingham, is due to open at the end of 2026, with the second phase to Leeds and Manchester scheduled for completion by 2032-33.

Arcadis' chief executive Mark Cowlard described HS2 as a "once in a generation project" and said the scheme should be given the all-clear sooner rather than later.

The consultant has already won work on the scheme, including a £7m contract to design the rail systems at the new Old Oak Common HS2 station.

Cowlard said: “We hope the independent review by Oakervee will swiftly come to the conclusion that the benefits of HS2 vastly outweigh the concerns, and that any concerns can be rightly addressed through the planning and development process.

"This will ensure the construction sector can move forward and deliver a railway which showcases the best of British engineering and innovation.”

And Balfour Beatty chief executive Leo Quinn said investing in infrastructure was key to ensuring the UK remained competitive.

He said: "The benefits of HS2 are clear and vast; upskilling our nation, boosting productivity and sharing prosperity across the UK.

“It is key that this review is undertaken swiftly and, more generally, that Government takes decisive action on infrastructure investment so critical to the UK’s future success.”


Source: Shutterstock

HS2 will learn its fate by the autumn

Last week Quinn revealed his firm, who has been lined up for £1.7bn worth of deals on the £56bn railway, had not included work on HS2 in its forward order book.

Nigel Jackson, who is the chief executive at the Mineral Products Association, said businesses had already invested in detailed planning and improved capacity to supply the project.

He said: "From a government ostensibly committed to being more ‘can do’ and keen to invest improving Britain’s infrastructure this further delay beggar’s belief. Now is the time to accelerate investment in infrastructure, not to add to uncertainty."

If the project is cancelled the review has been asked to cost the impact of such a move including “contractual penalties; the risk of legal action; sunk costs; remediation costs; supply chain impact; and an estimate of how much of the money already spent, for instance on the purchase of land and property, could be recouped”.

A host of firms stand to miss out on work if the scheme is pulled including Euston station builder Mace, Old Oak Common station builders Balfour Beatty and Vinci as well as ground engineering firm Keller which is working on tunnelling schemes in the Chilterns alongside Kier, Bouygues and Sir Robert McAlpine.