HS2 to be delayed by five years, says transport minister
Grant Shapps, the minister for transport, has disclosed that the first phase for the HS2 high-speed railway, could be delayed by up to five years.
This comes after news that the cost of the railway rose from £62 billion to between £81 and £88 billion. Shapps has stated that he maintains an "open mind" about the next steps for the project.
The first section of the line which was expected to open in 2026, between London and Birmingham, will now open in 2028 at the earliest.
The second phase of the project, set to have trains run between Birmingham to both Manchester and Leeds, has also been delayed, and may now open in the mid-2030s.
Allan Cook, the chairman of HS2, authored a report which disclosed the project could not be delivered at the present budget.
Cook stated that the previous report had not given due consideration to building in areas which were densely populated, or those with more challenging geographical features.
He said, “The budget and target schedule for the programme have proved unrealistic, while at the same time the benefits have been understated”.
The shadow transport secretary, Andy McDonald, criticised the government, saying they had "misled both Parliament and the public about the cost of HS2".
Chairman of Midlands Connect and Midlands Engine, Sir John Peace, stated "I wholly believe that HS2 is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to rebalance the UK economy and build a transport network fit for the future."
In August the government reviewed the project to determine whether or not it will go-ahead at all. The decision should be published by the end of the year.