UK Government expected to confirm HS2 delays to cut costs
Delays to some sections of HS2 to save money will shortly be announced by the UK Government, it has been reported.
The BBC said it understands this will primarily affect the high-speed railway between Birmingham and Crewe, and between Crewe and Manchester.
Conservative MP Simon Clarke, former chief secretary to the Treasury, said: “This would be a sensible decision.
“Having observed HS2’s progress as chief secretary, I have serious doubts as to value for money and cost control.”
HS2 Ltd chief executive Mark Thurston recently said the impact on the project from inflation has been “significant”, adding to the cost of building materials, labour, fuel and energy.
“We’re looking at the timing of the project, the phasing of the project, we’re looking at where we can use our supply chain to secure a lot of those things that are costing us more through inflation,” he told the BBC.
In October last year, Transport Secretary Mark Harper said the forecast for when HS2’s phases would be complete remained within planned ranges.
That involved Phase One – connecting London with Birmingham – opening between 2029 and 2033.
Services will initially start and end at Old Oak Common, west London, due to delays at Euston.
Mr Harper said Phase 2a – extending the line from Birmingham to Crewe – was “on track” to be completed between 2030 and 2034.
The date range for the western leg of Phase 2b – connecting Crewe with Manchester – remained between 2035 and 2041, the Cabinet minister added.
The eastern leg of this phase will run from the West Midlands to the East Midlands. A planned extension to Leeds was shelved in November 2021.
HS2 has been dogged by criticism over its finances.
A budget of £55.7 billion for the whole of the project was set in 2015. But the target cost of Phase One alone has spiralled to £40.3 billion at 2019 prices.
The UK has designated HS2 and England and Wales project despite not a single inch of the route being in Wales. This means Wales will not benefit in the same way as Scotland and Northern Ireland from additional rail funding as a result of the project.
A Cardiff University report found that if rail was devolved, Wales would have received an extra £514m investment in its rail infrastructure between 2011-12 and 2019-20 as a result of UK Government investment in HS2.
The Department for Transport has been approached for comment on the potential delay.
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