Surprise Surprise, HS2 chairman goes cap in hand to Government, expected to blow budget by £30bn

Surprise Surprise, HS2 chairman goes cap in hand to Government, expected to blow budget by 30bn
Surprise Surprise, HS2 chairman goes cap in hand to Government, expected to blow budget by 30bn

Surprise surprise! Hate to say we told them so, but it looks like HS2 is predicted to go massively over budget - after its boss went crawling to the Department of Transport with the bad news

Allan Cook, chairman of HS2 last week wrote to the Department for Transport saying the HS2 project cannot be delivered within its initial projected budget of 56bn, and is expected to exceed that number significantly.

Last week, the Financial Times reported that the cost of the High Speed Rail project is likely to miss its £56bn budget by as much as £30bn, with many estimating that the costs could in fact be even higher.

Allan Cook, chairman of the beleaguered HS2 project last week wrote to the Department for Transport saying that the project could not be delivered within the £56bn budget.

The Guardian reported last week that this was down to several issues with the project, including a “combination of poor ground conditions found during the surveying work, the costs of engineering a railway to a very high specification, and the further additional costs of it being designed to run at even higher speeds than other comparable rail projects”.

The HS2 project has been saddled with criticisms of poor community engagement in Buckinghamshire, and our council leaders are both firmly behind kicking the project, which will devastate the Buckinghamshire countryside with little or no benefit to residents, into the long grass.

The newspaper has led the HS2: Enough Is Enough campaign and has long said that this financial black hole of a project is a waste of taxpayers' money.

We believe that the money could be better spent upgrading existing rail lines, or as a boost for our ailing public services which have been subjected to unprecedented cuts by the Government.

Angela Macpherson, leader of Aylesbury Vale District Council said:

"This news just adds to the growing list of why the project should be scrapped.

"86bn so far and we could be heading past the 100bn mark.

"If indeed the new Prime Minister is Boris Johnson, it's imperative he follows up with his previous position and undertakes a full review of costs and outlines the business case for HS2."

Contractors have been put 'on hold' to begin works on HS2 Phase One from London to Birmingham, until they are granted 'notice to proceed' by the Government after fears mount over growing costs of the project.

A decision is expected in December.

Angela continued: "We need to keep the pressure on, please keep writing to our local MPs John Bercow and David Lidington.

"We must encourage them to keep the conversation going on parliament and raising our concerns as residents.

"We've got our priorities completely wrong. The cost of one Frigate to protect shipping in the gulf is £250-300 million.

"We're wasting 25% of the NHS net spend per year on this project. Where are our priorities as a nation?

"These are much biggest priorities than a white elephant, and a project that is spiralling out of control.

"The emphasis on our public transport must be on the Northern Powerhouse and the HS2 Northern rail network which is in dire need of improvements."

Last month transport secretary Chris Grayling told New Civil Engineer that Cook was undertaking a review of the project “to make sure the costs and budget are right and that it is deliverable”.

Bucks County Council Leader Martin Tett said he wasn't suprised by the new figures, saying the project has never made any economic sense.

He said: “Pouring more money into HS2 is the ‘economics of the madhouse’.

"This project has never made any economic sense and we long ago forecast that it would costs billions more than its initial budget.

"It is sad but unsurprising to be proved right”

An HS2 Ltd spokesperson said: “We don’t comment on leaks or speculation. We have previously noted that our Chair, as you would expect, continues to scrutinise the programme, and regularly reports back to the Department.

"We are determined to deliver a railway that re-balances the economy, creates jobs, boosts economic growth and is value for money for taxpayers.”