Review claims HS2 should happen despite rising costs

The government-commissioned Oakervee review into the HS2 high-speed railway linking London and the North of England says it should be built, despite its rising cost.

Launched in August, the review will not be published until after the General Election, but a draft of the review says that the project might cost even more than its current price of £88 billion. However, members of the panel which produced the review have told the BBC that the draft recommends that HS2 should be built with only relatively minor alterations, including reducing the number of trains per hour from 18 to 14, which is in line with other high-speed networks around the world.

Henri Murison, director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, said: "The Northern Powerhouse Independent Review on HS2 said that there were no identified credible alternatives to HS2 in order to deliver the same capacity, and that it has the potential to unlock greater growth in the North and Midlands. It is welcome that their recommendations are mirrored by the government's own Oakervee Review."

In a letter sent to Doug Oakervee, Lord Berkeley, the chairman of the review panel, said that he could not support its conclusions or recommendations.

He wrote: “My concerns are about the process of the report's preparation and its outcome. We had to complete the work in a very short time. I also detected a trend in may of the discussions within the review to accept that HS2 will go ahead.... rather than look at the pros and cons of alternative options. I reserve the right to publish my own alternative report in due course."