Government’s HS2 delay decision slammed as ‘short-termism’

The government is set to delay some sections of the HS2 high-speed railway project in a bid to save money.

The decision will affect the section of the high-speed railway between Birmingham and Crewe, and between Crewe and Manchester, according to the BBC.

HS2 has been plagued by criticism over its finances, with costs soaring far beyond the initial estimates.

The railway, which will link London, the Midlands and North of England, was given a price tag of £33bn in 2010.

But now the overall target cost, excluding the eastern leg of Phase 2b from the West Midlands to the East Midlands, has rocketed to around £71bn.

It is understood that the government hopes that the delays will allow it to spread the cost over a longer period of time, making it more affordable by reducing annual expenditure.

A spokesperson for the High Speed Rail Group, which represents companies who have worked on similar projects, said: “The High Speed Rail Group is alarmed by today’s news that sections of HS2 will be delayed. The delay at Euston in favour of Old Oak Common coupled with the delay between Birmingham and Crewe by two years will not save money and will only add to the total cost of the project. Without clear timings on delivery between Crewe and the North West, millions will only be left behind again. The cheapest way to deliver HS2 is quickly.

 “Every cost element that make up HS2 rise each time the project is delayed. Constant uncertainty in Government breeds uncertainty in industry which does nothing to ensure efficient delivery.

“Investment to upgrade our national infrastructure is imperative to achieve the economic growth needed for prosperity and opportunity. HS2 is the single largest infrastructure project in Europe and will bring the UK’s cities and regions closer together. Delays and cuts cost the people of Manchester, the people of Liverpool and the people of Glasgow at a time where what Britain needs most of all, is economic growth. If you cut investment, you cut growth and that is what are seeing here.”

East Midlands Chamber director of policy and external affairs Chris Hobson said: “This Government is once again minimising the huge opportunities that HS2 brings to progressing many of our country’s overarching economic objectives, including levelling up and net zero, by providing the infrastructure that will spur clean growth and regeneration in UK regions.

“Investing in big infrastructure is a vital ingredient in any successful economy, as we have outlined in our Business Manifesto for Growth, yet as a country we continue to adopt a very short-term attitude by slowing down or scaling back this investment any time we need to make some cost savings.

“In the East Midlands, where we receive the lowest transport infrastructure spending per head at 64.7% of the UK average, we need to see a firm commitment to progressing the Eastern Leg through Parliament via a dedicated bill as soon as possible.

“This will allow us to build on the long-term vision being developed for economic activity in our towns and cities, which will ultimately provide a return on this investment by creating growth, jobs and prosperity.”

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