HS2 decision delayed as Government is warned the full cost could reach £150 BILLION


A decision on whether to keep or axe the controversial High Speed Two rail link has been put back to next week, it was revealed today as ministers were warned that the full coast of the project could hit £150billion.

Downing Street said that a decision on the divisive project was not expected this week as Boris Johnson’s government continues to be at odds over whether to go ahead.

But it is due to be announced before the next Commons’ recess starts a week on Friday. 

Critics inside and outside Westminster want the scheme to connect London with northern cities to be axed on financial and environmental grounds.

Today the TaxPayers Alliance reiterated its opinion that it is too expensive and should be abandoned.

The estimated worst-case cost of HS2 is currently estimated at £106billion, but the TPA suggested it could eventually reach £150billion.

In a letter to Boris Johnson it urged a rethink, writing that ‘given the undoubtedly rising costs, it is prudent to consider the deliverability of the project’.

‘We are concerned that it may be difficult to deliver in its current form, despite significant increases in budget,’ it added.

Ministers have warned that abandoning the high-speed rail proposals would cost billions in compensations as well as leaving some of the UK’s major construction companies on the brink of financial uncertainty.

But leading figures in Downing Street, including Dominic Cummings, believe it is a white elephant.

But politicians in the Midlands and north are urging him to continue with a project that they say will revitalise the economy.

The Whitehall spending watchdog last week said that HS2 is over budget and behind schedule because its complexity and risks were under-estimated.

The National Audit Office (NAO) warned that it is impossible to ‘estimate with certainty what the final cost could be’.

It published a report urging the Government and HS2 Ltd to be ‘transparent and provide realistic assessments’ in relation to the high-speed railway.

A Government-commissioned review led by former HS2 Ltd chairman Doug Oakervee leaked earlier this week stated that the project’s bill could reach £106billion.

But HS2 was only allocated £56billion in 2015.

Phase One between London and Birmingham was due to open in 2026 but full services are now forecast to start between 2031 and 2036.


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