Mounting Cabinet revolt threatens to sink the HS2 rail link as ministers look to ‘kill off’ project after budget nearly doubles to £60billion

HS2 opponents are said to include Theresa May’s deputy David Lidington, Chief Secretary to the Treasury Liz Truss and Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom. ‘There is concern across government at the way the project is being managed and at the way the projected costs are continuing to grow,’ the source said.

Tonight’s investigation, for Channel 4’s Dispatches programme, claims that although published national accounts show HS2 will rise to an average cost of £4.2billion a year over the next ten years, ministers have secretly allocated up to £6billion a year.

This would bring the outlay to £64billion – £8billion more than budgeted currently and almost twice the initial budget of £33billion set in 2011. The senior Cabinet source tells the programme ministers are now ‘increasingly minded to kill off’ plans for the line and ‘put the money into upgrading services used by millions of voters every day’.

‘The costs are spiralling so much that we’ve been actively considering other scenarios, including scrapping the entire project,’ the source said.

A Cabinet minister told the Spectator: ‘In the next Tory leadership contest the winning candidate will need to have “Scrap HS2” in his or her leadership manifesto — as in: call the whole thing off.’

Another minister told the magazine: ‘The case for HS2 is and always was nonsense. By the time it gets to Birmingham, if it ever does, there will have been so many rows about cost overruns that the second phase won’t happen.’ Dispatches also reveals that ministers are considering saving money by building only the first leg of HS2, the section that runs from London to Birmingham.

A source close to Transport Secretary Chris Grayling insisted the project would go ahead, and ruled out any bid to scale it back. ‘There is no possibility of it being either axed or any of the routes changed,’ the source said.

The Campaign for Better Transport has urged the Government to invest £4.8billion instead in extending the rail network to help ‘the most disadvantaged and disconnected communities’.

It said that a national reopening programme would initially create 33 new rail lines with 72 new stations, allowing an additional 20million rail journeys a year. Dispatches features the first interview with Professor Stephen Glaister since he stepped down as chair of the Office of Road and Rail watchdog in December.

Asked if we would regret the construction of HS2, he replies: ‘That is what the analysis shows. There was no big picture analysis. We just don’t know whether there would have been a better way of spending the money.’

Cynical Me, Kent, United Kingdom, 
Another white elephant, look at crossrail project, and it spiralling cost and delays.

Rsh76, Not where you are, United Kingdom,
London Euston to Birmingham New Street is 115 and a bit miles. Virgin’s Pendolinos are booked to take around 1hr 20 mins to do the trip, but they are limited, due to Network Rail’s incompetence, to 125 mph. They can actually run at 140 mph, which by my reckoning, means that they can do the run in about an hour or less, including time to accelerate from Euston, and slow down for the approach to New Street – if Network Rail had carried out the line improvements properly a few years back. Why on earth are we spending a fortune on this white elephant?

A Sad Former Tory, London a Region of Europe, United Kingdom,
We ‘suffer’ this crass and expensive stupidity as a result of an ORDER from the Evil Union (EU). The Empress of Greater Germany ordered so-called high-speed rail lines to traverse all of her Empire. The reason: in order that she can despatch units of the Evil Union’s ‘army’ to quell dissent and opposition. PS: I think £100,000,000,000 is a conservative estimate. That will only just about pay the directors salaries, bonuses and ‘perks’.

mark cody, london, United Kingdom,
what a bloo-y waste of uk public money, i would rather this money be spent on policing budgets, school budgets, nhs hospital budgets, social care budgets, instead of this white elephant 18 minutes faster to get from watford to birmingham.tory shambles again new money forest needed urgently pm theresa may.

MattH, Cheltenham, United Kingdom,
And just to add to the HS2 nonsense, there have been reports in recent weeks (since the New Year) that numerous property / land owners on the approved route have still had absolutely no contact about their property being purchased for the project. People have looked at the approved route on scheme plans running straight through their houses yet have had not one visit / phone call / letter from anybody about it. Are the builders just going to turn up with bulldozers and fain surprise that condemned properties are still occupied…?

Jaygem, Northampton,
Now that the UK is no longer involved in the EU Strategic Transport Technology Plan (STTP) or involved in the Trans-European Transport Networks policy (TEN-T), surely it’s past time to shelve the HS2 plan (which appears to have been greatly driven by these policies).

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