The former chair of HS2, Sir Terry Morgan, has said “something will have to give” on the triangle of time, cost and scope of the proposed high-speed rail network.
Sir Terry who recently stood down as chair of both HS2 and Crossrail was appearing before the economic select committee at the House of Lords as peers attempted to find answers on whether HS2 can be delivered within the original £56bn budget.
Other questions faced by Morgan included whether the speed of trains will be lowered, could the £56 billion be better spent elsewhere and if it’s right that HS2 is being prioritised over improvements to local and regional services in the north.
When asked whether he thought it was feasible for the network to be delivered on budget, Morgan said teams “have a lot of work to do" and that “nobody knows what the number is” when it comes to the final cost.
One of the most interesting remarks by Morgan was in response to questions about the speed of trains and whether it was likely speeds would be reduced to help with escalating costs. Morgan inferred that this could be the case and said he suspected that “most people actually regret calling it High-Speed Two”.
Morgan faced resistance from the former chancellor, Lord Darling, who actually signed off Crossrail during his time in government. Darling told the hearing that he believed smaller projects along the line would have been better.
“HS2 was not the product of investigation into what was needed,” he added. “It was just decided it should happen and justified afterwards. This thing is never going to get to the north of England in any of our lifetimes.”
Morgan responded by insisting the support for the project is as strong up north as anywhere else in the country. "Everyone I met at all these events that HS2 have organised to promote HS2 all think HS2 is a brilliant idea.”