Following the controversial announcement of a two-year delay to the construction works of HS2’s high-speed line, Transport Secretary Mark Harper has admitted that the halt in the project will not save money.
The two-year delay to construction for northwest section of the route, connecting Birmingham to Crewe and then Crewe to Manchester, has been accompanied by the announcement this week of the Euston station tunnelling project also being put on hold.
It is currently being estimated that HS2 services may not enter London until the 2040’s, a major blow to the project’s taxpayer funding and passenger expectations of a high-speed journey.
The delay to construction was initially presented to the public as a means to save money, being a necessary cost-saving decision, which has since been refuted by Mr Harper as he spoke at the Transport Select Committee on Wednesday, where he admitted “In itself, delaying delivering something doesn't save money.
"But of course, it does reflect the fact that you have a budget in each year, everybody listening to this has to live within their annual budget, as well as a budget over time.”
The HS2 project has been facing major scrutiny in recent months due to the hugely inflated budget, which currently sits between an estimated £72bn and £98bn to deliver the railway in full. Because of the level of investment, there are serious concerns that delaying the construction works further will lead to the budget growing larger due to the ongoing rising inflation and material costs.
Mr Harper would then touch upon the decision to pause works at Euston station, defending the delay and reiterating the “government’s commitment” to connect HS2 with London Euston and Old Oak Common.
Mr Harper has claimed that the decision to halt works stemmed from the current progress being “significantly ahead of the budget that is available and that's why I've taken the decision to pause construction of that project.
He added “The commitment to take HS2 to Euston remains in place and the timing of that will mean that that is delivered when we have the line open to Manchester, and my understanding from having interrogated officials is that's when the volume of passengers will require the service to go all the way to Euston.”
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