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HS2 railway could go over budget and be delayed by seven years

The controversial HS2 project could end up costing £78 billion and be delayed by seven years.

There were reports that it was massively over budget but today the company building it confirmed costs could spiral by up to £22,000,000,000.

HS2 is planned to run up to 18 trains per hour at a top speed of 250mph – faster than France’s high speed TGV service which currently runs at around 200mph.

But the project has been beset by problems, including rising engineering costs and reported poor ground conditions. The second stage now does not look set to be complete for another 20 years.

What is HS2?

  • HS2 was billed as a way of connecting half the UK’s population – some 30 million people – with high speed state-of-the art trains.
  • It would serve 25 stations and be built in two phases.
  • Phase one would link London to the West Midlands with the first services originally scheduled for 2026.
  • Phase two would link the West Midlands to Leeds and Manchester (in a V-shape) and was originally scheduled for completion in 2033.
  • The train would reach speeds of 250mph, drastically cutting travelling times.
  • Trains would have up to 1,100 seats each and be up to 400 metres long.
  • The Department of Transport said that the project would triple the capacity of trains across the entire route.

In a written statement to Parliament, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: ‘Colleagues will see that the chairman of HS2 does not believe that the current scheme design can be delivered within the budget of £55.7 billion, set in 2015 prices.

‘Instead he estimates that the current scheme requires a total budget – including contingency – in the range of £72 to £78 billion, again in 2015 prices.

‘Regarding schedule, the chairman does not believe the current schedule of 2026 for initial services on Phase One is realistic.


‘In line with lessons from other major transport infrastructure projects, his advice proposes a range of dates for the start of service.


‘He recommends 2028 to 2031 for Phase One – with a staged opening, starting with initial services between London Old Oak Common and Birmingham Curzon Street, followed by services to and from London Euston later.


‘He expects Phase 2b, the full high-speed line to Manchester and Leeds, to open between 2035 and 2040.’

Journey Times

Journey times are set to be drastically reduced if HS2 does happen.

  • Birmingham to London: Currently one hour 21 minutes. With HS2 reduced to 49 minutes.
  • Birmingham to Manchester: Currently one hour and 28 minutes. With HS2 reduced to 41 minutes.
  • Leeds to London: Currently two hours and 11 minutes. With HS2 reduced to one hour and 21 minutes.
  • Manchester to London: Currently two hours and 7 minutes. With HS2 one hour and 7 minutes.
  • Nottingham to London: Currently one hour and 40 minutes. With HS2 one hour and 9 minutes.
  • Liverpool to London: Currently two hours and 14 minutes. With HS2 one hour and 33 minutes.
  • Sheffield to London: Currently two hours and 1 minute. With HS2 one hour and 25 minutes.

Ancient woodlands, cemeteries and homes have already been cleared for the project with building work on the first phase set to start later this year.


An independent review was launched last month to examine ‘how and whether’ the controversial project should even go ahead.


Mr Shapps announced a Government-commissioned inquiry which is being led by HS2 Ltd chairman Douglas Oakervee and Lord Berkeley – a long-term critic of HS2.


The Department for Transport said the review will consider a number of factors relating to HS2, including its benefits, impacts, affordability, efficiency, deliverability, scope and phasing.


A final report will be sent to Mr Shapps – with oversight from Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chancellor Sajid Javid – by the autumn.

What Will The HS2 Review Consider?

The review’s terms of reference state that it will consider how much ‘realistic potential’ there is for cost reductions by amending the scope of the project, such as:

  • Reducing the speed of the trains
  • Making Old Oak Common the London terminus ‘at least for a period’, instead of Euston
  • Building only Phase 1, between London and Birmingham
  • Combining Phase 2a – extending the line to Crewe – with Phase 1
  • Altering plans for Phase 2b, which currently involves taking the line to Manchester and Leeds

HS2 said that despite the growing costs, the project remained a ‘compelling strategic answer for Britain’s future transport needs.’

A spokesman for HS2 Ltd said: ‘The report by our chairman Allan Cook is an assessment of the current status of the HS2 programme.

‘It examines the comprehensive and far-reaching benefits of HS2 for the country, which are more significant than those previously taken into account.

‘It also examines the challenges facing the project. It sets out a rigorous cost and schedule range for delivery of the programme under its current scope.

‘The assessment makes clear that HS2 remains a compelling strategic answer for Britain’s future transport needs, relieving overcrowding and congestion on our roads and railways, and reducing the carbon footprint of the UK.

‘It will drive economic growth and regeneration in our regions, and bring Britain closer together.

‘The assessment of Phase One is based on the significant work carried out so far, which has given us detailed insight into the scale and complexity of the programme. The assessment of Phase 2b takes into account lessons learnt on Phase One.’

Source: Metro

3 September 2019