A House of Lords committee having another of those long and hard looks at HS2 has warned that costs are already out of control, and says the government should admit as much and come up with some alternative plans to reign in spending.
It's not so much about the money itself, though. What really worries the Economic Affairs Committee is that the two-stage build approach of HS2 could see so much money poured into stage one – London to Birmingham – that there won't be anything left in the pot for the second stage, which is currently planned as the Y-shaped branches from Birmingham up to Manchester and Leeds. This menace, which has been raised before, would massively reduce the impact and entire point of HS2, the committee says, and it would therefore be better to combine Phase Two with the Northern Powerhouse Rail project to guarantee that at least some HS2 cash goes above Birmingham.
Or they could make the trains run slower to save build costs, which would be a fittingly Brexit solution to the problem of a costly high-speed line. EAC chair Lord Forsyth said: "The costs of HS2 do not appear to be under control. It is surprising therefore that the Government has not carried out a proper assessment of proposals to reduce the cost of HS2 – such as lowering the speed of the railway or terminating in west London rather than Euston – which the Committee recommended in 2015. A new appraisal of the project is required." [House of Lords via Sky News]