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Leaked: HS2 will cost 25% more than similar projects in other countries

The £56bn HS2 project is set to cost 25% more than similar projects being carried out in other countries, a leaked report written by PwC has revealed.

The official report was commissioned by HS2 but was never published – and, according to the Financial Times, which obtained the document, HS2 has resisted FoI requests to release the information from Labour peer and transport veteran Lord Berkeley since 2016.

However, ministers reportedly revealed over summer that the report would be published “in the coming months.”

The report only covers HS2’s Phase 2, which spans from Birmingham to Manchester and Leeds. But according to the national paper’s sources, the report’s broad findings are applicable to the entire project.

Lord Berkeley stated that the study confirms his “worst fears” that the scheme is likely to go over budget – a concern which he wrote about for RTM last year.

“Just as concerning is the continued secrecy around the report — one of many consultants’ studies funded by the taxpayer and kept confidential,” he told the FT. “The fact that the government is embarrassed by their findings should not be a reason to withhold publication.”

PwC highlighted a number of reasons for the higher expense in comparison to such projects as the 621km Madrid-Barcelona and 301km Shanghai-Nanjing lines. One of these was that HS2 will have 25 stations – far more than its foreign counterparts – most of which will be located in city centres.

Other factors included the UK’s high population density which, the leaked document states, has led to HS2 paying higher land values and compensation and carrying out more extensive environmental mitigation.

Work began on the high-speed rail link in Birmingham earlier this month. However, a split in the Tory stance over the project was epitomised by Boris Johnson’s comments at the Conservative Party conference.

Johnson suggested that the high-speed rail project should be put on hold and, in an interview with the Sunday Times, said: “There are projects we should have on transport in the north of the country that ought to take precedence over HS2.”

HS2 has received an ‘amber/red’ rating for the last six years from the Infrastructure and Projects Authority, which is part of The Treasury. This means it is at risk of not delivering value for money.

RTM has contacted HS2 for comment.

Top image: Ben Birchall via PA Wire/PA Images


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