HS2 delay worth it?

High speed rail could be put on hold or reduced

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Will HS2 be scrapped now a review suggests it will be late and costly?

By Joe Harker

The company building HS2 has admitted the high speed rail project could be up to seven years late and £22 billion over budget.

The government launched a review into whether it was still a "realistic" project to persist with, sparking concerns that the review was a prelude to scrapping it either partially or altogether.

HS2 is not popular in many places, particularly the areas it would run through without stopping. It's popular in cities it links up and disliked in countryside areas it would pass through.

The Claim:

The Daily Telegraph reports transport secretary Grant Shapps has confirmed the government has pushed back opening dates in accordance with the announced delays.

HS2 chairman Allan Cook said the initial plans for high speed rail had failed to take into account the challenges of building the line through densely populated areas.

The BBC's Theo Leggett said the outlook for HS2 was bleak as the new revelations provided plenty of ammunition for critics of the project.

People don't want a hugely expensive rail line that costs billions and won't even be ready for years, especially when other areas of the economy are in dire need of more investment.

With the possibility of a general election looming and the policy already quite unpopular the government might see it as easy political capital to announce they're going to scrap it after their review.

The Counter Claim:

Cook did stress that with all the negative information about HS2 circling the benefits of the project were being understated.

The UK desperately needs more rail capacity, with current lines already fit to burst and in dire need of help. Scrapping HS2 would result in billions being wasted with precious little to show for it. People might not like HS2 but they'll like crowded trains that will only get more busy even less.

It is also predicted to bring big economic benefits to the North of England, with several cities welcoming the investment and attention that comes with being part of the project.

The Confederation of British Industry argued that HS2 ought to go ahead despite the cost rises and longer timetable, insisting the project needed support at a time when bad news was coming out.

There are also warnings that too much has been sunk into HS2 for it to be scrapped altogether. To completely ditch the project would be a "disaster" as it would not only waste billions already spent but potentially prevent more radical improvements to British infrastructure that are sorely needed.

The Facts:

HS2 is split into different phases. The first phase of the project, which links London to Birmingham, is predicted to be five years late while the second phase that runs to Manchester and Leeds could be seven years behind schedule.

Originally expected to cost £33 billion, revised projections suggested HS2 would instead take up £56 billion and that became the new budget. The new projections estimate a further £22 billion will be needed in order to deliver high speed rail properly.

In 2015 prices the cost will rise from £56 billion to somewhere between £72 billion and £78 billion. Given price rises the actual figure is now closer to being between £81 billion and £88 billion.

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