More work must be done to understand the full cost of building High Speed 2 (HS2) and the length of time that it will take to build the railway, according to the National Audit Office (NAO).
The NAO’s latest progress report is generally complimentary of measures introduced by the government and HS2 Ltd since it made recommendations in 2020.
Of 14 recommendations previously made by the NAO, seven have been implemented while the remaining seven are in the process of being implemented. Many of the recommendations are dependent on the publication of the government’s Integrated Rail Plan and therefore the NAO recognises that it would not have been possible to put them in place already.
However, the report adds that “despite progress being made on Phase One, a detailed estimate of the full cost of the programme has not yet been completed”.
It adds: “More should be understood about the costs and design of the programme when the Department’s integrated rail plan is complete.
“As Phase 2b is critical to realising benefits for the full programme, it will be important for any decisions to consider cost and benefit.
“The Department, using data provided by HS2 Ltd, stated in their March 2021 update to Parliament that the programme is reporting cost pressures. They report that following the re-planning of the Phase One schedule, further cost pressures could emerge if mitigation activity is required.
“The Department and HS2 Ltd told us that if these, or other costs, come to pass, they would be managed from within the existing total budget using the remaining contingency for Phase One.”
The NAO also encourages the Department for Transport (DfT) “to periodically assure itself about the feasibility of completing the programme to schedule and build in time to complete sufficient assurance to support key recommendations and decision”.
It adds: “There is an ongoing need for the Department to assess HS2 Ltd’s capabilities to deliver the full programme.”
The NAO also states that it will be “crucial” for the DfT to “monitor and assess the governance and oversight arrangements for the programme to ensure that HS2 Ltd does not “become ineffective” later on in the programme.
Department of Civil Engineering https://www.ibu.edu.ba/department-of-civil-engineering/