HS2 could cost up to £106bn, according to a widely leaked Government review.
An inquiry led by former HS2 Ltd chairman Doug Oakervee reportedly found there is “considerable risk” that the high-speed rail project’s cost will rise by up to 20% beyond the £81bn to £88bn range set out in a report by current HS2 chairman Allan Cook just four months ago.
HS2 was allocated £56bn in 2015.
Oakervee’s review recommends that work on phase 2b of HS2 from the West Midlands to Manchester and Leeds should be paused for six months to investigate if it could be a mix of conventional and high-speed lines, according to the Financial Times, which has seen a copy of the paper.
The review concluded that the Government should “on balance” continue with the 250mph railway, which would initially go from London’s Euston station to Birmingham and then to Leeds and Manchester by 2040, but that this is subject to “a number of qualifications”.
It said, “further work” is needed to assess HS2’s impact on regional growth, and warned it is “hard” to say what economic benefits will result from building it.
“Transport investment alone will not ‘rebalance’ the UK economy,” the review adds.
Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham described the leak as “quite worrying” and claimed the use of conventional lines in the North would be 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.
“I would say this to the Prime Minister and the Government today: This is your first big test of your commitment to the North of England and we’re watching very closely.
“In my mind there’s no justification at all for doing one thing between London and Birmingham, and doing something different in the North.
“If you’re going to do it, do it properly. Don’t do it by halves.”
Boris Johnson is expected to decide within weeks whether to go ahead with construction on the first phase of what would be Europe’s largest infrastructure project.
The review said savings to the £106 billion figure could be made by having the private sector contribute to funding HS2 stations, lowering specifications and improving the “cost performance of the management”.
It also stated that no other high-speed line in the world runs 18 trains per hour, and recommends reducing HS2’s frequency to 14.
£8bn has already been spent on the project.
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?