Tue. Sep 26th, 2023


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Fury as £100bn HS2 to become ‘the most expensive railway in world history’

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HS2: Parts of construction delayed for two years

HS2, the UK’s troubled high-speed rail link between London and Birmingham, is on track to be the most expensive railway in the world – with Britain’s hard-pressed taxpayers footing the bill, a campaigner has warned.

Joe Rukin, Stop HS2 Campaign Manager, was speaking after watchdog the Infrastructure and Projects Authority (IPA) rated the beleaguered scheme’s first two phases, from London to Birmingham and then on to Crewe in Cheshire, “unachievable”.

The red rating, contained in the IPA’s annual report on major projects – which was released last week, states: “There are major issues with project definition, schedule, budget, quality and/or benefits delivery, which at this stage do not appear to be manageable or resolvable.

“The project may need re-scoping and/or its overall viability reassessed.”

Mr Rukin told Express.co.uk: “It is not news that the HS2 project is undeliverable.

READ MORE: HS2 branded ‘unachievable’ by Government’s own watchdog in huge blow[INSIGHT]

“It has been that way since 2010.

“Thirteen years after they first proposed HS2, there is still no workable solution for Euston station, because it has always been the case that the single-tier overland station they want simply cannot fit in the available space.

“But this fallacy, like the whole project, has been running on wishful thinking and high-level lobbying from the construction industry ever since the start.”

He added: “What is clear is that no matter how cut-back and useless HS2 becomes, it will still be the most expensive railway in world history, and the firms that lobbied for it will make a fortune out of cash-strapped taxpayers.”

Earlier this month, HS2 Ltd’s chief executive Mark Thurston announced his resignation amid major delays and cost pressures for the high-speed railway project.

He is scheduled to stand down in September after six-and-a-half years leading the Government-owned company.

HS2 was initially scheduled to open in 2026, but this has been delayed to between 2029 and 2033 due to construction difficulties and rising costs.

A budget of £55.7billion for the whole project was set in 2015, but the target cost excluding the eastern leg of Phase 2b from the West Midlands to the East Midlands has soared to between £53billion and £61billion at 2019 prices.

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In 2020, a Government assessment estimated the overall cost would eventually top £100billion.

Speaking after the IPA’s verdict, a Department for Transport spokesman said: “Spades are already in the ground on HS2, with 350 construction sites, over £20billion invested to date and supporting over 28,500 jobs.

“We remain committed to delivering HS2 in the most cost-effective way for taxpayers.

“HS2 will bring transformational benefits for generations to come, improving connections and helping grow the economy.”

Six environmental activists retried over charges related to tunnelling close to Euston station in protest against HS2 were sentenced earlier this week.

All either pleaded guilty or were acquitted, with the ones who were convicted handed suspended sentences of between one and three months on Tuesday.

They had previously been acquitted of aggravated trespass.

The group, included Dan Hooper, also known as Swampy, built a 30-metre (100ft) tunnel network under the rail terminus, occupying it for a month, from January 27 to February 27, 2021.

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