HS2 set to be delayed in frantic bid to claw back costs

Construction workers on HS2

HS2's construction is set to be cut back to recover costs

Dan Falvey

By Dan Falvey

Published: 09/03/2023

- 11:26

Updated: 09/03/2023

- 13:27

The budget for the high speed rail project has already ballooned to far greater than expected

Sections of HS2 are set to be delayed in a bid by the Government to save money.

The rail infrastructure project has seen costs balloon since it was first commissioned over a decade ago.

Now it is claimed that work on the high-speed railway between Birmingham and Crewe, and between Crewe and Manchester will be suspended in an effort to claw back costs.

It comes despite Transport Secretary Mark Harper saying last October that the forecast for when HS2’s phases would be complete remained within planned ranges.

HS2 high vis vest

HS2 has already seen its costs balloon


That involved Phase One – connecting London with Birmingham – opening between 2029 and 2033.

Services will initially start and end at Old Oak Common, west London, due to delays at Euston.

Harper said Phase 2a – extending the line from Birmingham to Crewe – was “on track” to be completed between 2030 and 2034.

The Department for Transport has been contacted for comment.

According to the BBC as well as delaying the Manchester to Crewe and Birmingham to Crewe sections of the development, some staff working working on the Euston end of the line may be redeployed.

In 2010, HS2 was estimated to cost around £33billion but the most recent revised estimates for the project suggest it will cost at least £71billion.

HS2 Ltd chief executive Mark Thurston recently said the impact on the project from inflation has been “significant”, adding to the cost of building materials, labour, fuel and energy.

“We’re looking at the timing of the project, the phasing of the project, we’re looking at where we can use our supply chain to secure a lot of those things that are costing us more through inflation,” he told the BBC.

London Euston station sign

Workers at London Euston may also be redeployed


Conservative MP Simon Clarke and former chief secretary to the Treasury said it would be "sensible" to curb parts of the high-speed train line.

He said: “Having observed HS2’s progress as chief secretary, I have serious doubts as to value for money and cost control.”

Responding to the reports, Joe Ventre, digital campaign manager of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: “HS2 is on a collision course with the realities of poor budgeting and soaring prices.

“With costs spiralling and the business case for HS2 getting weaker every year, delays will not get the project back on track.

“A better plan would be for the government to scrap this white elephant once and for all.”

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