Ministers have launched an 'independent' review to consider all aspects of the multi-billion pound HS2 project, including whether it should go ahead.
The review will be led by Douglas Oakervee, a former chair of HS2 Ltd, with HS2 sceptic Lord Berkeley as his deputy and supported by a panel of experts.
It follows suggestions that the scheme may cost double its £56bn budget.
The Department for Transport said the terms of reference for the review confirm that the ‘independently-led government review’ will look at whether and how HS2 should proceed, using all existing evidence on the project to consider:
- its benefits and impacts
- affordability and efficiency
- deliverability and scope
- its phasing, including its relationship with Northern Powerhouse Rail
A final report will be sent to transport secretary Grant Shapps, ‘with oversight from the prime minister and chancellor, by the autumn'.
Officials said that while the report will inform the Government’s decisions on next steps for the project, ‘limited, largely preparatory works, on the project will continue in parallel with the report’s work’.
Mr Shapps said: ‘The prime minister has been clear that transport infrastructure has the potential to drive economic growth, redistribute opportunity and support towns and cities across the UK, but that investments must be subject to continuous assessment of their costs and benefits.
'That’s why we are undertaking this independent and rigorous review of HS2.'
Mr Oakervee said: ‘The Prime Minister has asked me to lead this important review into the HS2 programme. I looking forward to working with my deputy, Lord Berkeley, to advise the government on how and whether to progress with HS2, based on all existing evidence.’