Shapps suggests HS2 will be £22 billion over budget and five years late
Has the HS2 project become a “shambles from a London-obsessed Government and a monumental failure for the North”?
Transport Minister, Grant Shapps, has said that the HS2 project will not be complete until between 2028 – 2031, compared to the initial deadline of 2026. Moreover, the project is set to cost an additional £22 billion; initial estimates suggested that the development would cost £62.4 billion, but Shapps has said that the project will be in the region of £81 to £88 billion.
Sir John Peace, Chair of Midlands Connect and Midlands Engine, said: “HS2 is the best way to add the extra rail capacity we so desperately need to rebalance our country’s economy. It’s encouraging that the government has confirmed that construction work will continue while the review is ongoing. In the Midlands and the North, we are backing HS2 in full, stand ready to build it in full, and are impatient to start benefiting from it in full. Although any delay is very disappointing, this is a project we will all benefit from for the next hundred years and more. It’s well worth waiting for. Decades from now, when our grandchildren look back at the investment we made in their future, they won’t be concerned with the exact year in which it opened.
“Now that we have an up-to-date account of how much HS2 will cost, we must also take a closer look at the benefits, which I don’t believe have been fully quantified or appreciated. HS2 will support an enormous amount of economic growth, job creation, increased productivity and swathes of much-needed regeneration, both around the new high-speed stations, but also the existing stations it will serve too. One look at Birmingham and you can see those benefits are real and already here.
This is a predictable shambles from a London-obsessed Government and a monumental failure for the North
“We must not forget that HS2 will also drive significant environmental benefits, freeing up capacity for 144 extra freight trains per day, allowing more than two million extra lorries’ worth of cargo to be transported on our railways each year. Empowering businesses to move goods in this way is essential if we’re to reduce emissions and meet the government’s pledge of becoming carbon neutral by 2050.
“Midlands Connect is submitting evidence to the Oakervee review, which will provide a clearer picture of the relationship between the costs and benefits of this transformational project. We have a responsibility to represent the views of all the businesses, councils and partnerships across the Midlands and the North who are eagerly awaiting the connectivity and growth this new railway will bring.
“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. We must all commit to a spirit of candid transparency throughout the project’s delivery. All parties and regions must work together to ensure it is completed in its entirety and as quickly as possible.”
Darren Caplan, Chief Executive of the Railway Industry Association, said: “Despite the news that HS2 Phase 1 may not be completed until 2028/31 and the update on costs, it is important to remember the project remains vital for the UK, its economy, cities and regional communities, and as shown by Chairman Alan Cook’s Stocktake, the benefits have been substantially undervalued. It will still more than pay for itself in GVA for the country, and will support 30,000 jobs at peak construction.
Despite the news that HS2 Phase 1 may not be completed until 2028/31 and the update on costs, it is important to remember the project remains vital for the UK, its economy, cities and regional communities
“We do of course need to ensure major infrastructure schemes like these represent value for money for the taxpayer, which is why the Railway Industry Association welcomed the setting up of the Oakervee Review and looks forward to working with the Review team to see how HS2 can be delivered as quickly and cost-effectively as possible.”
Liberal Democrat MEP for the North West, Jane Brophy, said: “The Tories’ long-term indecision and incompetence was always going to cost taxpayers and fail Northerners the most. The Liberal Democrats have always been absolutely clear that HS2 construction should have started in the North. Then, when the project inevitably encountered the issues it has, the areas most in need of infrastructure upgrades would have received them first. However, as things stand, rail links in London and the South will still be upgraded, whilst Northern links are left in their dire 1970s state – as usual.”
John Leech, who was on the Transport Select Committee during HS2’s early stages, first called for the project to begin in Manchester in a heated debate over a decade ago. The Leader of the Liberal Democrats in Manchester added: “The Lib Dems have been calling for the North to get its fair share of upgraded railways for decades now. Whilst our calls have gone ignored, prices are higher and trains are worse than ever before. This is a predictable shambles from a London-obsessed Government and a monumental failure for the North. Only the Liberal Democrats are committed to fixing our railways and closing the North/South funding gap.”