Costs of high speed rail 2 to spiral by billions to eye-watering 106bn


CONTROVERSIAL high-speed rail network HS2 is facing fresh problems as predicted costs sky-rocket.

New forecasts for the rail project said it could cost 18bn more than it was expected to last year.

Boris Johnson will have to make decisions over HS2 within weeks

A leaked report into the spiralling costs and delayed timeline to build HS2, forecast the project could cost as much as 106bn, according to the Financial Times

The original forecast for the project was 34bn.

Last year, it was projectedto cost around 88bn.

Boris Johnson, known for his love of big infrastructure projects, will have to decide what to do with the railway which is supposed to eventually connect London, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds.

He is due to make a decision on the project within weeks.

The first phase of the project from London to Birmingham which would cut train journeys by around half an hour was supposed to be finished by 2026.

But Brits hoping to take advantage of the high-speed trains might now have to wait until 2031 to see it completed.

The railway to connect the West Midlands to Manchester and Leeds is likely to be targeted to cut costs, by mixing conventional and high-speed rail lines, and delayed even later until 2040.

The report was also doubtful of the promises that HS2 would boost regional economies.

It said “further work” was needed to assess how valuable it would be to the towns and regions hoping to benefit from it.

“Transport alone will not ‘rebalance’ the UK economy,” it said.

The new proposed route vs West Coast Main Line

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the “massive decision” on whether to go ahead with HS2 “needs to be fact-based”.

He told Sky News his approach to HS2 was “relatively neutral”.

“I asked Doug Oakervee to do that report and said to him ‘give me the facts, give me the data, give us the information so we can make a proper informed decision’.

“I’ve always approached this from a relatively neutral point of view and that information will help to inform a decision that is best for the whole country.”

He said the decision would be made “very soon”.

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said using conventional lines for the Northern phase was a “second-class option”.

He told BBC Breakfast: “It’s the same old story. London and the South gets whatever it wants, and it’s all about penny-pinching in the North.”

However, even if the entire project is scrapped, the government has already spent 8bn on it, and it would cost a further 3.6bn to cancel.

The number of passengers between London, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds per hour could treble to 15,000
The projected cost of HS2 is more than three times the original forecast

The Department of Transport said: “A draft of the Oakervee Report was delivered shortly before Christmas, the transport secretary, chancellor and prime minister will take a final decision on HS2 shortly.”