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High Speed 2 inquiry


The programme for High Speed 2 (HS2) is facing cost and schedule pressures with options for extending the opening date for phase 1 now being considered and steps are being taken to bring cost estimates within available funding, according to a report by the National Audit Office.

The 2026 target opening date for phase 1 is at risk despite good progress with some major procurements. The Department for Transport (the Department) has asked HS2 Ltd to revisit the programme schedule in order to increase confidence for delivery from 60 % to 80%, without increasing costs. It has also asked HS2 Ltd to assess the impact of extending the timetable for opening Phase 1 by up to 12 months.

Since the NAO reported in 2013, the Department and HS2 Ltd have made significant progress in preparing to deliver the programme. They have issued tender documents for major civil engineering contracts on phase 1, and plan to announce the preferred route for phase 2b later in 2016.

In 2013, the Public Accounts Committee raised concerns about the ambitious timetable for High Speed 2, and the NAO report states that the Department set HS2 Ltd a schedule for achieving delivery readiness that was also too ambitious. The Department and HS2 Ltd delayed the first of three formal review points—which tested HS2 Ltd’s readiness to deliver—by ten months because HS2 Ltd would not reach the required level of capability in time. By May 2016, HS2 Ltd had the capability it had planned to reach in July 2015, but did not pass review point 1 owing to concerns about cost and schedule. It is important that HS2 Ltd builds and embeds the organisational capability, and produces fully assured plans to enable it to complete work on schedule, and to gain the delegated authority to deliver the programme efficiently.