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.  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.
 Public Accounts Committee: High Speed 2: Spring 2020 update - https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm5801/cmselect/cmpubacc/84/84.pdf