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Delays to Crossrail could ‘push HS2 off track’

Delays and cost overruns on the Crossrail project could have a significant impact on HS2, according to the Construction Products Association (CPA).

The nine-month delay could “exacerbate” pressures on HS2’s struggling budget and push the cost above the £55.7bn forecast, according to the CPA’s analysis.

The hold-up could also impact several other major projects in the construction industry including Hinkley Point C, a nuclear power plant being built in Somerset.

Crossrail was due to open at the end of the year but has now been delayed until next Autumn.

The CPA’s report said that the push back would “heighten concerns regarding delivery of HS2” and “raises questions regarding whether the industry will see HS2 work as quickly as initially anticipated.”

Esther McVey, the work and pensions secretary, has said that the total cost of HS2 could rise to more than £100bn and accused the government of “writing a blank cheque” for the high-speed rail scheme, as reported in The Sunday Telegraph.

The comments were made to her constituents in Tatton, Cheshire last November, but the comments have just resurfaced.

McVey is among at least 12 cabinet ministers calling for a review asking whether completing the scheme represents value for taxpayer money.

Noble Francis, economics director at the CPA, said: “Major infrastructure projects are expected to drive industry growth in 2019 and 2020 but the £600m cost overruns and nine-month delays to Crossrail add to existing concerns about government’s ability to deliver major projects and lead to additional concerns about the delivery of already delayed projects such as Hinkley Point C and HS2.

“As a result, we have had to significantly revise down our construction forecasts for the infrastructure sector and overall.”

She added: “Looking on the positive side, if the government is able to reduce the uncertainty sooner rather than later and improve delivery of major projects, to time and budget, then the risks to the forecasts are on the positive.”

Following the setbacks to Crossrail, Sir Terry Morgan announced that he would be stepping down from the £15m project.

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