A Stop HS2 placard in the shape of a white elephant
A Stop HS2 placard in the shape of a white elephant

An MP has claimed the HS2 project has been “plucked out of the air”.

Austin Mitchell made his comments after the high speed rail scheme was debated at a hearing by the Public Accounts Committee.

The controversial line is set to cut through parts of Lichfield and the surrounding villages.

And members of the Committee were scathing in their criticism of the project, with Richard Bacon MP joining Mr Mitchell in questioning the entire scheme.

“You’ve given process of forecasting passenger numbers to people with vested interests in HS2 going ahead,” he said.

“If your methodology was that good, you wouldn’t have got an £8bn hole.

“Taxpayers are distrustful of your ability to get this right.”

Campaigners from the Stop HS2 group welcomed the tough questioning employed by the MPs and said the time had come for HS2 Ltd to stand up and be counted.

“It was very clear that HS2 Ltd and the Department for Transport were completely unable to answer the many serious questions about the case for HS2 that the Public Accounts Committee put to them,” said Penny Gaines, chair of Stop HS2.

“Every time HS2 owned up to any kind of mistake, they acted like naughty schoolkids desperate to pin the blame on consultants, without seeming to realise that they are responsible for the management of the project to date.

“The more people look closely at HS2, the more they realise the flaws in the proposal. Both the Public Accounts Committee and the National Audit Office are questioning the sums produced by HS2 Ltd and the rationale for building it by the Department for Transport.

“With the headline cost of HS2 now at £50 billion, it should have the soundest case possible for building it. The government should stop this runaway train before it costs the country any more money.

“It’s time to put the HS2 management team out of their misery and cancel the HS2 project as soon as possible.”

Ross

Founder of Lichfield Live and editor of the site.