UPDATE: Jeremy Hunt says £60 billion HS2 project won’t be derailed

HS2 - Image Alex Daniels / Shutterstock.com

17:00 (January 28) – The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt, has used a speech to business to deny that the HS2 project will be altered and that the train will not travel into the centre of London.

Speaking to a business audience about the need for the country to build on its strengths and to get the economy moving, he said that the country needed to believe in itself and its ability to deliver.

But critics have said on Saturday, January 28 that the project was folly and that the money spent so far could have been far better used in levelling up in the north.

Although Jeremy Hunt has said that the project will go ahead as planned, that contradicts with statements from the Ministry of Transport, who have worked to temper expectations ahead of the project’s review.

08:32 (January 27) – Ministers have refused to deny reports that the £60 billion HS2 project won’t result in the service linking the north with central London.

According to the Sun newspaper on Friday, January 27 ministers are in the midst of discussions that could see the link with Euston station being delayed significantly or scrapped altogether.

A review ordered by ministers last year in light of the need to cut costs is due to report shortly with the Department for Transport has already warned that “tough decisions” would need to be taken.

One of the options that is said to be on the table is the delay of the link by between two and five years. Another is the scrapping of the Birmingham to Crewe and Manchester legs of the rail link.

Consideration is also being given to building a new hub at Old Oak Common in West London, which would see passengers having to disembark and catch the new Elizabeth line to reach the city centre.

Possible HS2 routes – Image courtesy The Sun

Underlying the need for change are projections that suggest the £44 billion budget for the rail line could hit £100 million or more. All contingency funds are said to have already been spent meaning that the government will need to find extra funds to see the project through at a time when there are extensive pressures on government coffers.

Subcontractors are said to be warning that they cannot meet their contracts due to the rising costs of raw materials. The Policy Exchange think-tank has looked at the implications of cancelling sections where construction has yet to start and found that cost savings of up to £44 billion could be achieved.

Former government transport adviser Andrew ­Gilligan who compiled the report wrote: “HS2 now costs more to build than the value of the benefits it will deliver.

“The official benefit-cost ratio shows that for every £1 spent on the scheme, the country gets back benefits worth only 90p. Shortening the scheme improves its value for money.”

The government has said it is committed to the £60 billion HS2 project, but Transport Minister Huw Merriman has already said he is going to be the bearer of bad news although he would not be drawn on what that meant.

Thank you for taking the time to read this article, do remember to come back and check The Euro Weekly News website for all your up-to-date local and international news stories and remember, you can also follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

FacebookTwitterRedditWhatsAppTelegramLinkedInEmailCopy Link
Go Back
Written by

Peter McLaren-Kennedy

Originally from South Africa, Peter is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at editorial@euroweeklynews.com.