HS2 review's co-author slams 'whitewash' report and demands his name is removed from document after he was 'shut out of meetings'

  • HS2 should go ahead despite soaring costs, according to a review of the project 
  • Co-author of the project has demanded his name be removed from the report
  • Lord Tony Berkeley savaged the review and said he was 'shut out of meetings' 
  • HS2 has been dogged by delay, scandal and spiraling costs in recent years

The co-author of a review into HS2 has demanded his name be removed from the document claiming he was 'shut out of meetings'.

Lord Tony Berkeley, the deputy chair of the government-commissioned review, sent an excoriating letter to chairman Douglas Oakervee savaging the report which urges ministers to push ahead with the project despite its eye-watering costs. 

Mr Berkeley, who has long criticised the project, said the review was a 'whitewash' and 'a very good marketing document for HS2.'

Lord Tony Berkeley, the deputy chair of the government-commissioned review, sent an excoriating letter to chairman Douglas Oakervee savaging the report which urges ministers to push ahead with the project despite its eye-watering costs

Lord Tony Berkeley, the deputy chair of the government-commissioned review, sent an excoriating letter to chairman Douglas Oakervee savaging the report which urges ministers to push ahead with the project despite its eye-watering costs 

In his letter, Mr Berkeley wrote that he had been shut out of the review process in recent months, City AM reports.

'As Deputy Chair I would have expected to be able to attend the meetings that you had with ministers, officials and HS2 from non-execs downward, but I was not invited.'

'There was also a marked reluctance from officials and/or you [Oakervee] to delve more deeply into the costs of the project, with long delays in arranging meetings with HS2, something I asked for in my first week on the Review.'

HS2 has been dogged by delay, scandal and spiralling costs in recent years.  

The leaked document admitted that it is 'not affordable' within the £56 billion budget set in the 2015 government spending review. The new estimate of £88 billion is likely to be increased again, the report noted.

The document warns that without the high-speed rail link 'large ticket prices' would be needed to put people off travelling at peak times.

There are also no 'shovel ready' alternative investments that could be made in the existing network to provide for much-needed additional rail capacity.

The leaked document admitted that it is 'not affordable' within the £56 billion budget set in the 2015 government spending review. The new estimate of £88 billion is likely to be increased again, the report noted

The leaked document admitted that it is 'not affordable' within the £56 billion budget set in the 2015 government spending review. The new estimate of £88 billion is likely to be increased again, the report noted 

The review also found that HS2 could benefit cities in the north and midlands more than London because of improved connections on intercity lines. 

Mr Oakervee suggested the journey from Leeds to Birmingham would be more than halved, to around 45 minutes, and that an hour would be cut from the journey time from Newcastle to Birmingham, to just under two hours. 

But Mr Berkeley, who saw the review on Thursday, claimed plans to reduce the speed of the trains from 250mph to 210mph had been removed before it was leaked - with Mr Oakervee still 'fiddling with it'. 

In the letter, Mr Berkeley wrote of the report: 'I cannot support its conclusions or recommendations, and have serious problems with its lack of balance.'

'The lack of balance is reflected in the often unquestioning acceptance of information provided by HS2 Limited and a failure to scrutinise the involvement of HM Treasury and the Department for Transport in the development of the project.'

CBI chief UK policy director Matthew Fell told City AM: 'The unequivocal message from CBI is back it, build it, benefit from it.

'HS2 is more than just a railway line, it's a key that unlocks future jobs, training and regeneration opportunities that will benefit us all.'  

HS2 review's co-author slams 'whitewash' report

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