HS2 service could be halved under cost-cutting regime

HS2 train frequency could be almost halved under plans revealed by government ministers amid a drive to save money on the £72bn project.

The number of trains running to and from London could be reduced to 10 an hour – down from the planned number of 18, according to reports.

The speed of trains could also be cut, under the plans, codenamed Project Silver and Operation Blue Diamond.

A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “We do not comment on speculation. Spades are already in the ground on the HS2 programme. It will better connect regions across the UK, provide a greener option of travel and is supporting tens of thousands of jobs.

“We remain committed to delivering the project from Euston to Manchester and continue to work in line with the Integrated Rail Plan.”

High Speed Rail Group (HSRG) has responded to the plans by saying: “Rising project costs are due to ongoing inflationary pressures in the economy, with higher costs in the construction industry driven in large part by global energy prices. Government has to face these inflationary effects on its committed national investment projects, just as it has done with consumer energy costs.”

HSRG said that any slowdown or delay in the HS2 project would bring to an end the private sector-led “mini-boom” taking place in Birmingham and wider West Midlands.

The statement added: “Re-specifying or simply delaying the project will mean in effect loosening proper controls on the project and we desperately need the growth and productivity benefits HS2 will bring in order to fight the cost of living crisis . In future it will always be said that HM Treasury is partially to blame for its lateness and overspend.

“Governments have continuously committed to the delivery of the project, and now is the time to re-affirm this commitment and deliver for the whole nation and build HS2 in full and on time.”

The news comes just days after speculation as to whether the HS2 line would even reach central London at all.

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