Cost of HS2 high-speed rail line could rise by £800m

HS2 should be scrapped according to a free market think tank.

New concerns over the cost of HS2 have been identified just six months after its budget was increased.

HS2 Ltd, the Government-owned firm developing the high-speed railway, reported that two components of Phase One between London and Birmingham could cost a total of £800 million more than planned.

In a written statement to Parliament, HS2 Minister Andrew Stephenson said half of this figure is due to preparation of the route for construction involving “more significant challenges than anticipated”.

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This includes the need to remove more asbestos than expected.

Another “significant cost pressure” worth £400 million has also been identified during the development of designs for Euston station.

Mr Stephenson warned that further investigation is being carried out which “could identify further pressure”.

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A spokesman for the Department for Transport said HS2 Ltd is still expected to deliver Phase One at the “target cost” of £40.3 billion.

The “funding envelope” for Phase One is £44.6 billion, which includes a contingency of £4.3 billion retained by the Government.

The DfT spokesman added: “As construction continues, this Government remains relentlessly focused on controlling costs, to ensure this ambitious new railway delivers its wealth of benefits at value for money for the taxpayer.”

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson decided to proceed with HS2 in February despite fears over its cost, schedule and impact on the environment.

In April, a full business case was approved with an increased budget and revised delivery date.

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Sam Hewitt