Live updates

  1. National

NAO report finds HS2 plans 'challenging' and 'unclear'

The timetable for planning phase one of the HS2 project - from London to Birmingham with work due to start in 2016/17 - was "challenging", the National Audit Office report said.

This challenging timetable "makes delivering this work difficult and increases the risk that the programme will have a weak foundation for securing and demonstrating success in the future", the report said.

Expressing "reservations" about the business case for HS2, the NAO said the Department for Transport's (DfT) methodology for appraising the project put a high emphasis on journey-time savings, from faster and more reliable journeys.

But the report added that the relationship between these savings and the strategic reasons for doing the project, such as rebalancing regional economies, was unclear.

The NAO said it was also unclear whether the business case covered just phase one or the full route including phase two - the Y-shaped network from Birmingham to Manchester and Leeds due to open in 2032/33.

Advertisement

  1. National

HS2 rail project has £3.3bn funding gap, watchdog says

The proposals have faced bitter opposition from campaigners. Credit: PA

The HS2 high-speed rail project has an estimated £3.3 billion funding gap which the Government has yet to decide how to fill, a report from a Whitehall spending watchdog said today.

It was not clear how HS2 - which runs through Tory heartlands and is bitterly opposed by some - would deliver and rebalance economic growth, the report by the National Audit Office (NAO) added.

The timetable for planning phase one of the project - from London to Birmingham with work due to start in 2016/17 - was "challenging", the NAO said.

This challenging timetable "makes delivering this work difficult and increases the risk that the programme will have a weak foundation for securing and demonstrating success in the future", the report said.

High Speed 2 'good neighbour' plans

High Speed Two Ltd, the company planning to build Britain’s new high-speed railway, has published its plans for being a good neighbour while building the line’s first phase between London and the West Midlands. Its draft code of construction practice explains how the company will develop the line.

The draft code will be in two parts. The first will contain standards for all sites along the route to reduce the impact on the neighbouring communities and the natural environment. The second part will include local plans developed in association with local authorities and statutory bodies.

We’re publishing the draft code following early consultation with local authority planning officers and key statutory bodies so that people have the opportunity to understand our approach to construction management. We feel that the measures included in this draft Code of Construction Practice will set the standard for construction throughout the industry and demonstrates our commitment to reducing the impact on communities and natural environment."

– Peter Miller, HS2 Ltd’s Head of Environment

The draft code will be the subject of public consultation later in 2013. Measures set out in the draft code include:

  • GPS tracking of dumper trucks to ensure that no fly tipping happens and that agreed transport routes are used at all times.
  • Use of 'directional broadband' instead of the traditional reverse warning beeps for vehicles, which are safer and cause less disturbance to neighbours.
  • Maintenance of existing public rights of way for pedestrians, equestrians and cyclists around the perimeter of construction sites.

HS2 consultation controversy

A consultation process which was carried out into the contoversial High Speed 2 route through the Thames Valley could be scrapped.

It's emerged that for the second time - people who took part in the investigation did not have their views considered.

Now the Aylesbury MP and Foreign Office Minister David Lidington is calling for the process to be restarted.

Advertisement