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Too little time for HS2 bill, warn rail industry experts

Officials have failed to allow for enough Parliamentary time to debate the High Speed 2’s (HS2’s) hybrid bill, according to senior rail industry insiders.

They cast doubt on the government’s timetable, which aims to introduce the bill at the end of this year and obtain Royal Assent in 2015.

As a result there are only 250 parliamentary days to debate a hybrid bill, take it through Commons and Lords select committees, make amendments and get it approved by the government’s 2015 deadline.

One rail industry insider told NCE that this is far less than it took the Crossrail project to get Royal Assent and was therefore “totally unrealistic”.

The Crossrail Bill was deposited in February 2005 and received Royal Assent in July 2008.

The Commons select committee stage alone took 22 months and the number of objections meant that the committee had to sit for 84 days.

Legal experts agreed that the timetable for the HS2 bill is challenging.

“The timetable is at best optimistic bearing in mind the number of actual available sitting days in Parliament because of the various recesses, the likely number of petitions and the small matter of a General Election in 2015,” said law firm Bircham Dyson Bell senior associate Shabana Anwar.

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