The UK Government is set to conduct an independent review of the High Speed 2 (HS2) project to assess the viability of the flagship high-speed rail project.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has announced the terms of reference for the review, which will determine if the project should be approved as it was conceived, revised or scrapped entirely.
The review will be led by Douglas Oakervee, supported by Lord Berkeley as deputy chair, as well as a panel.
Overall, the Oakervee-chaired committee will use existing evidence on the project to determine its benefits, impacts and affordability.
The committee will evaluate the scope of the high-speed project and its deliverability in phases.
Shapps said: “The prime minister has been clear that transport infrastructure has the potential to drive economic growth, redistribute opportunity and support towns and cities across the UK, but that investments must be subject to continuous assessment of their costs and benefits.
“That’s why we are undertaking this independent and rigorous review of HS2.”
The final report by the panel will be submitted to the secretary of state by the end of the year. The findings are expected to help the government to devise and determine the future of the high-speed project.
Meanwhile, HS2 project works, which largely involve preparatory activities, will continue.
The HS2 project involves building 345 miles of high-speed track connecting London, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds.
Phase One of the project will link London and Birmingham by 2026. In Phase Two, the project will be extended to Manchester and Leeds and is scheduled for completion by 2033.
In May, the UK House of Lords urged the government to cap speeds and reduce the scope of the project to limit its spiralling costs.