MPs demand High Speed 2 cost certainty

Pressure is mounting on the Government to keep costs associated with delivering High Speed 2 in check and to provide greater certainty over how much the railway project is likely to cost.

In Parliament last Thursday the Transport Secretary Chris Grayling was told by the Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman: “The Minister will remember that when I said that the cost of HS2 would soar past £60Bn I was mocked, but it is now past £60Bn and rising.

The chief executive has quit and the people in my constituency would like this folly to be stopped now with the money put into saving the health service and into our local government, which is going bankrupt.”

Chris Grayling hit back: “Actually the plans for HS2 have been widely welcomed across the north of England.”

Rutherglen & Hamilton West MP Margaret Ferrier then pointed out that the Adam Smith Institute had recently warned that the project could end up costing up to £80Bn. She added that this “would equate to nine times more per mile than comparable high speed tracks in France”. How can the Government, she asked, assure the public that the “already sky high costs are not going to spiral even further out of control?” 

Chris Grayling replied: “We want not only to deliver high quality infrastructure for the future but to do so in a way that is environmentally sensitive. That means spending money on tunnels, cuttings and things that other countries would perhaps choose not to do.”

He added that he aims to “retain a careful stewardship of Britain’s green and pleasant land while delivering what we need for the future”.

Chesham & Amersham MP Cheryl Gillan had earlier asked the Transport Secretary what recent estimate he had made of the cost to date of High Speed 2. Chris Grayling said that the total expenditure on the project from 2009 to the end of the last financial year was £1.4Bn of which £450M was spent on land and property.

Yesterday the Government published its response to a report last month from a House of Lords Select Committee into phase one of the High Speed 2 project and a new overview of the business case for the project and its environmental impacts. To read the reports click here.