Keeping track: independent oversight of High Speed 2

Executive Summary

High Speed 2 (HS2) should have been scrapped, but with it now proceeding, discipline must be restored to the project. The final bill for Europe’s largest infrastructure project could be £150 billion. In announcing the decision to proceed with HS2 to the House of Commons, the prime minister said that a series of measures would be taken to "restore discipline to the programme". But a Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report revealed a wilful disregard for accountability, transparency and taxpayers' money at HS2 Ltd. [1] The PAC remained unconvinced HS2 Ltd and the Department for Transport (DfT) are doing what is required to improve management of infrastructure projects.

The TaxPayers’ Alliance has identified a possible model to improve transparency and accountability, which will ultimately impact affordability and deliverability. This model, for a new independent HS2 commissioner, comes with parliamentary and financial options which could offer further advantages.

What can be done?

Any possible solutions should be governed by some basic principles:

  • The government must deliver the project on time and on budget. It is wrong that taxpayers should have to pay for cost overruns on HS2.
  • HS2 Ltd, and the current structures around it, are unlikely to deliver the project on time and on budget. This is in no small part due to a lack of project transparency and personnel accountability.
  • Only consistent, well informed and independent scrutiny can improve currently poor standards of transparency and accountability.
  • The Minister for HS2 is responsible for the affordability and deliverability of the project.

The TPA has analysed a series of proposals which could improve transparency and accountability, and ultimately help with affordability and deliverability.

Click here to read the full proposal



[1] Public Accounts Committee: High Speed 2: Spring 2020 update -

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