Lord Adonis has said politicians must stop the “dither and delay” over HS2 and stressed the need for government to push on with the scheme’s hybrid bill.
The Labour peer and former transport secretary added the biggest challenge that faced the £50bn project was getting the hybrid bill through parliament.
He said: “The challenge now is for government to put the HS2 bill to vote so that the legislative process gets underway. The government now needs to give a firm date as soon as possible for the second reading of the hybrid bill.”
Once passed, the act would secure powers to build and maintain the first phase of HS2 from London to Birmingham, which is planned to start construction in 2017.
Speaking to Construction News, Lord Adonis said that delay had been the “biggest threat and the biggest driver of cost increases” on the project.
The department for transport was unable to confirm a date for the second reading when asked by Construction News. The first reading was on 25 November last year.
Lord Adonis was speaking after the launch of HS2 chairman Sir David Higgins’ report on the cost and delivery of the high speed line.
Among the recommendations, Sir David insisted HS2 could be delivered within budget.
Lord Adonis said Sir David had made “significant improvements” to the project and welcomed the chairman’s confidence on delivery.
Asked whether the project now had full backing from the Labour party after shadow chancellor Ed Balls raised concerns around HS2’s increasing budget, Lord Adonis was confident it did.
He said: “Ed Balls made it clear his biggest concern was around cost” and added that Sir David had addressed this issue within his proposals.
The Labour peer said it had taken the government four years to get this point on HS2 and insisted “a Labour government would have sorted this in 18 months”.