More than £7 billion has already been spent on the controversial High Speed 2 rail link from London to the North, it has emerged
Transport minister Baroness Vere told the House of Lords that the government had spent £7.4 billion on the rapid rail link to date – with passenger services not expected to start for another seven years.
But she refused to guarantee that the line’s northern section – from Birmingham to Leeds and Manchester – would go ahead regardless of the eventual cost of the southern leg from London to the West Midlands.
‘The costs are still under review and being finalised,’ she said. ‘I am certainly not able to give assurance … as to the routes in the North because complex rail developments such as these are interrelated and the true benefit – the true value for money for the taxpayer – is achieved only when they are built as one system.’
A number of design contracts have been awarded since royal assent was granted for the project in 2017.
Grimshaw is working with WSP on Birmingham Curzon Street for HS2 services and with Haptic and Arup on the huge overhaul of London Euston.
WilkinsonEyre was chosen with Arup Associates for Birmingham Interchange and alongside WSP on Old Oak Common in the north-west of the capital.
Schemes have progressed in the north of England too. Atkins and Gensler revealed images (pictured) of their proposed overhaul of Leeds Station for high speed services back in 2017.
Yet new prime minister Boris Johnson has been urged to reconsider the project amid reports that its budget has spiralled.
Vere refused to confirm or deny reports that HS2 chairman Allan Cook had written to the government putting the anticipated total cost of the project at £86 billion - some £30 billion higher than previously expected.
‘We do not comment on speculation,’ she said. ‘However, we will publish an updated business case by the end of 2019 based on the latest assessment of costs and schedule.’
An HS2 Ltd spokesperson said: ‘Over the last year, HS2 has made enormous progress. At key construction sites such as Birmingham Curzon Street, Washwood Heath, London Euston and Old Oak Common, we are hard at work clearing sites, diverting utilities, completing demolitions, planting trees and delivering our pioneering archaeological programme.
Hs2 phase 2 route
’HS2 is already supporting more than 9,000 jobs across Britain, with UK-based companies forming 99 per cent of our supply chain. Once complete, HS2 will transform journeys across the UK, delivering extra seats, rebalancing Britain’s economy and enabling both Northern Powerhouse Rail and the Midlands Rail Hub.
’We have previously noted that our chair, as you would expect, continues to scrutinise the programme, and regularly reports back to the Department for Transport. We are determined to deliver a railway that rebalances the economy, creates jobs, boosts economic growth and is value for money for taxpayers.’