The UK Government’s controversial and embattled HS2 rail project has been given an “unachievable” rating for two of its phases by the Infrastructure and Projects Authority (IPA).
The high-speed projects London to Birmingham and Birmingham to Crewe phases were given the red rating by the IPA, a government centre that reports to the Cabinet Office and Treasury department, while the Crewe to Manchester phase was rated amber.
According to the IPA, a red rating means that the successful delivery of a project looks to be “unachievable” and may need to be re-scoped or reassessed due to “major issues with project definition, schedule, budget, quality and/or benefits delivery, which as this stage do not appear to be manageable or resolvable”.
An amber rating meanwhile means that a project’s delivery appears feasible but “significant issues already exist” which appear resolvable if addressed quickly.
The ratings appeared in the IPA’s annual report on major projects and provided a snapshot and rating of 241 other projects as well.
The project has been repeatedly plagued with issues since it was first proposed in 2009 and then since construction officially began in September 2020.
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It has been criticised by environmentalists for its impact on the environment, including TV presenter and conservationist Chris Packham, who described the project as a “dead white elephant” online in response to the IPA’s rating.
In March, Transport Secretary Mark Harper revealed that his department had decided to defer part of the project, phase 2a between Birmingham and Crewe, by two years as a cost-saving measure, while also focusing efforts on connecting Birmingham to the Old Oak Common station and lowering the priority of work bringing the line into central London through Euston.
However, many criticised the idea of the delay being able to save costs, including the National Audit Office, which said that the plans could result in higher spending.
The move was also criticised by Labour’s Shadow Transport Secretary Louise Haigh who claimed to have seen a leaked document from a senior official that went against the department’s claims.
The project is now expected to open between 2029 and 2033 from London to Birmingham, with a bill covering the final leg to Manchester currently going through the UK parliament.