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The Oakervee Review

The Department for Transport announced in August 2019 that Douglas Oakervee would chair an independent review of HS2.
The review was supported by a panel of experts, representing a range of viewpoints, to ensure an independent, thorough and objective assessment. (Yeah, right...)

Here it is ...

Phase One and Corporate level recommendations

3.3 The key decision for Phase One is ‘Notice to Proceed’ (NtP): the government authorisation for HS2 Ltd to finalise the contracts for major construction works for Phase One alone. In essence, NtP is a go/no-go for the entire HS2 project as the Review has concluded that it only makes sense to do Phase One if continuing with the northern phases. Before issuing NtP, the government should as soon as possible ensure:

  • HS2 Ltd achieves a satisfactory position with each of the Main Works Civils contractors in order to obtain acceptable Stage 2 prices1 and a reasonable level of value engineering. If HS2 Ltd cannot achieve a satisfactory position with the Main Works Civils contractors, then HS2 Ltd, subject to further discussions with the DfT and HM Treasury, may have to consider re-procuring some or all of these contracts (conclusion 25 in section 8)
  • an updated business case for Phase One, approved by HM Treasury, is published and a revised funding envelope is set for Phase One with appropriate levels of contingency to be held by the DfT/HMTreasury (conclusion 21 in section 7 and conclusion 59 in section 11)
  • the DfT updates and publishes a revised business case for the project as a whole. This should include the latest cost and benefits for the project (conclusion 59 in section 11)

Pages 13-14

Sexed-up? HS2 report being rewritten

The Department for Transport (DfT) has denied that it has the final report of the 'independent' HS2 review but has refused to clarify its own role in the rewriting of the 'draft' document.
Lord Berkeley has alleged a programme of 'continuous improvement' is taking place i.e. sexing up the document to ensure that HS2 is approved. (Transport Network, beleben )

Oakervee report 'edited' in favour of HS2

Speaking to Transport Network Lord Berkeley says that what the BBC has reported is 'not what I read' in the October draft of the report.
'I suspect there has been continuous improvement [of the case for HS2] without anyone knowing,' he said and suggested the report had been edited.


HS2 - Give me the facts

The transport secretary has asked for more data before making a "massive decision" on HS2 as it emerged the new high-speed rail link could cost £106bn. (BBC, ITV )

HS2 decision once 'all the information' is in, says cabinet minister

Grant Shapps was speaking following the publication of a report by Lord Berkeley, in which the Labour peer said costs are out of control and that MPs have been misled. (Ham & High)

The Berkley Report

  • HS2 costs out of control (BBC)
  • I have collated and evaluated all of the evidence available to me and conducted my own assessment of the business case, the benefits and relevance of the project to the needs of the regions it is planned to serve and today published my own report that analyses these issues in an objective manner. (Telegraph)
  • the UK Parliament would never have agreed to build the high-speed rail line had they not been “misled” over its realisation. Lord Berkeley also estimated costs to be three times the original evaluation, claiming that they could reach a figure of at least £108bn. (Rail Tech)
  • Chris Packham welcomes Lord Berkeley's review of HS2 (Ekklesia; About Ekklesia)

And more ! LocalGov , Bucks Free Press , Bucks Herald , Politics Home , the Parliamentary Review,
Sky News, The National ...

More Leaks -

    Lord Berkeley wont sign it -

Berkeley said Oakervee was “still fiddling with it” and had agreed to remove his [Lord B's] name. The Labour peer said he was considering the option of issuing a separate report. See his letter to Oakervee, Camden New Journal.

So best not to publish the report before the election ? What a relief (for EK, Align, Fusion ...)

Surely you didn't trust Boris ?

Berkeley pushed out ...

My role as dep chair of the Oakervee Report on HS2 finished yesterday. Report not finished and no opportunity to influence conclusions.Publication delayed until 2020 (Twitter, TransportNetwork, BusinessTravel, Infrastructure Intelligence , BBC )

Leaks ??

  • We've been told shortening the route to end at Old Oak Common in north-west London rather than tunnelling into central London, is being "seriously considered" (BBC)
    Craig Douglas has been back to the site where his lovely old pub The Bree Louise used to stand next to London Euston station ... He has yet to get full compensation. HS2 Ltd says it is trying to sort that out.
  • The outcome of the Government's Oakervee Review into HS2 will be revealed this week, (Really ? BucksHerald)
  • One of the options reportedly being considered by the HS2 review panel is for trains from London to run thorough Birmingham to Manchester and then Leeds. (Yorkshire Post)
  • ... Reports suggest that the forthcoming Oakervee Review will axe Phase 2b between the West Midlands and Yorkshire and possibly cancel the project entirely. (Railnews)
  • There are reports that the HS2 high speed rail link to Leeds and Sheffield could be cut to save over £10 billion. (ITV, Construction Enquirer )

Hows it Going ?

Its a sham -

Mr Lidington warned that if works, like the ones that began in Steeple Claydon this week, are allowed to continue constituents and the general public will believe that the entire review is a sham.

The Sunday Telegraph has today reported about the Douglas Oakervee review into HS2. The article says: 
“It comes amid growing disquiet among members of the panel itself about the handling of the review, including that it had so far failed to examine the overall costs of the scheme, despite reaching its half way point.”

It continues:
“Sources close to members of the 10-strong inquiry team said some were "unhappy and disappointed" about the progress of the inquiry,”

“One source said: "I've talked to several members of the panel and they are pretty unhappy. The meetings are unstructured and they take a very long time.””

“But one source claimed some members of the panel were "desperate" to avoid the scheme being cancelled.”

As you will be aware, this really is our last chance to get HS2 cancelled. If the review is not being run well, then surely it makes sense for Mr Oakervee, a former chairman of HS2 Ltd, to be asked to stand down? After all it can hardly be claimed that he is independent. The Deputy Chair of the review panel is Lord Berkeley who for several years has shown he well understands the issues associated with HS2. 

The review panel does not appear to be fully addressing the terms of reference which were set out for it.

Please write to Grant Shapps   shappsg@parliament.uk (and copy to your MP )  now, requesting that Lord Berkeley takes over the lead role of the HS2 review so that it may operate effectively in the remaining time available.




What took you so long ?

The Prime Minister has stated his wish to review “whether and how we proceed” with HS2 ahead of the ‘Notice to Proceed’ decision for Phase 1 (London-West Midlands) due by the end of 2019. The "terms of reference" may be found here.

'Preparatory Works' continue during the review process - despite protests from the Woodland Trust.

On the down side, Oakervee is a past chair of HS2, but on the other hand, Tony Berkley (Vice Chair) is a persistent critic. Let battle commence !

  • Campaigners react to HS2 Review (Bucks Herald)
  • Is the announcement all it seems ? (Bucks Herald, again)
  • The HS2 review team (Grauniad) - Looks like an away match
  • View from the Chilterns (Grauniad again)
  • Grauniad letters
  • HS2 a colossal waste of money (David Davis, Telegraph - 2 free articles/week ?))

& for (much, much) more of similar, see Google News.

Pause Construction until the Review is completed

A Woodland Trust Campaign, supported by Politics Home

Chiltern Society

A letter to the Chairman

Written Statement - Grant Shapps (3-9-19)

"The recently appointed Chairman of HS2 Ltd, Allan Cook, provided his advice to me on the cost and deliverability of the current scheme shortly after my appointment as Transport Secretary – and I want the House to have the full details at the earliest opportunity. ... I have today placed a copy of the advice in the Libraries of both Houses. This has only been redacted where commercially necessary, and the Oakervee Review panel will of course see the report in full.

Colleagues will see that the Chairman of HS2 does not believe that the current scheme design can be delivered within the budget of £55.7 billion, set in 2015 prices. Instead he estimates that the current scheme requires a total budget - including contingency - in the range of £72 to £78 billion, again in 2015 prices.

Regarding schedule, the Chairman does not believe the current schedule of 2026 for initial services on Phase One is realistic. In line with lessons from other major transport infrastructure projects, his advice proposes a range of dates for the start of service. He recommends 2028 to 2031 for Phase One - with a staged opening, starting with initial services between London Old Oak Common and Birmingham Curzon Street, followed by services to and from London Euston later. He expects Phase 2b, the full high-speed line to Manchester and Leeds, to open between 2035 and 2040."

Chairman's Stocktake

"The programme is facing substantial schedule and cost pressures for a number of reasons. In part, that is a reflection of the scale and complexity of the programme (Redacted). Next, the work we have carried out has revealed that ground conditions are significantly more challenging than predicted. (although much as predicted by the petitioners - Ed) Finally, and in part, early estimates based on comparisons with other international high-speed railways, have for a variety of reasons proven to be overly optimistic."

We find page 22 to be particularly
well argued

Commentary - Stop HS2, more to follow ...