‘End of the line’ for HS2’s multibillion-pound Eastern leg

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The eastern leg of HS2, linking Birmingham with Nottingham, Sheffield and Leeds, looks set to be mothballed in a bid to save £40bn.

Initially, the rail project was predicted to cost £32.7bn but this has soared to £107.7bn over the last nine years, according to weekend news reports.

It is expected that ditching the eastern leg, due to open by 2033, would save the Treasury around £40bn.

But critics have said that cancelling the eastern route undermines Boris Johnson’s election promise to “level up” the economy.

A Whitehall source told The Mirror: “They might make some announcement about doing the work in the future but everyone involved in this knows the truth.

“They have run out of cash. There’s no way we’re going to see this built in our lifetimes.”

The source added: “It shows exactly how serious the Tories have been about levelling up all along.”

However, The Department for Transport said “no decisions” had been finalised.

It said: “The Integrated Rail Plan will soon outline exactly how major rail projects, including HS2 phase 2b will work together to deliver the reliable train services the North and Midlands deserve.”

Construction on the Birmingham to Manchester leg is set to continue despite being around £30bn over budget.

The first phase linking London to Birmingham is also going ahead, with costs spiralling to roughly £70bn.

 

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