Con­struc­tion of en­tire project to top £111bn with £7bn more for the trains

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - FRONT PAGE - by KATY CLIFTON katy.clifton@trin­i­tymir­ror.com Twit­ter: @Katy_Clifton1

THE pro­jected bill for HS2 will be £111 bil­lion, ac­cord­ing to a new De­part­ment for Trans­port (DfT) es­ti­mate – dou­ble the ini­tial £55.7bn fig­ure.

The gov­ern­ment-cal­cu­lated es­ti­mate sug­gests that Phase 1 of HS2, from Lon­don to Birm­ing­ham, would cost £48 bil­lion.

Con­struc­tion of the en­tire project is now es­ti­mated to be £104bn, with an­other £7bn added due to the cost of the trains.

Af­ter be­ing com­mis­sioned by the DfT, the es­ti­mate was pro­duced by Michael Byng, the man who cre­ated the method used by Net­work Rail to cost its project. His cal­cu­la­tions sug­gest that HS2 will cost dou­ble the of­fi­cial fig­ure and 15 times more than the cost per mile of the TGV in France.

In an in­ter­view with the Sun­day Times, Mr Byng said his es­ti­mates had not been ques­tioned by the rail net­work and that con­trac­tors are “wor­ried”.

He said: “HS2 has not ques­tioned the fig­ure, or my method­ol­ogy, nor have they come up with any struc­tured es­ti­mate of their own. A cou­ple days later I got a call from the DfT say­ing, look, if 6.6 miles is go­ing to cost us £8.25 bil­lion, what chance have we got of get­ting to Birm­ing­ham. I said: ‘I’ll work it out for you’.

“Michael Hurn, the project spon­sor at the DfT, is a very good guy and is very wor­ried at the ad­vice he’s been given [by HS2]. The big con­trac­tors are also wor­ried. They’ve said when they sub­mit a bid it’s nowhere near [as low as] the es­ti­mates that HS2 have got for the job.”

The project has ex­pe­ri­enced set­backs and de­lays and the fi­nal de­sign project of HS2 is ex­pected to take up to 18 months.

Stop HS2 cam­paign man­ager Joe Rukin re­sponded to Mr Byng’s cal­cu­la­tions and said the costs could pos- sibly rise more in those months.

He said: “The cost of HS2 has al­ready dou­bled once since it was first pro­posed, so it should come as no sur­prise to any­one that it might dou­ble again, but when it is the man who

wrote the book on es­ti­mat­ing rail projects say­ing this, Gov­ern­ment should re­ally lis­ten.

“With it be­ing so ob­vi­ous to ev­ery­one who lives in the real world that there are so many far more im­por­tant pri­or­i­ties for pub­lic spend­ing, it seems ut­terly in­sane that the Gov­ern­ment are still wed­ded to this vain­glo­ri­ous van­ity project and all its’ false prom­ises. With the fi­nal de­sign for HS2 not due for an­other 18 months, it is al­ready two years late and that re­design will al­most cer­tainly jack up the costs again.”

Penny Gaines, chair of Stop HS2, said that the bud­get for the high-speed rail net­work is more of a “fan­tasy than re­al­ity”.

She added: “Up un­til now the Gov­ern­ment has been get­ting away with it be­cause the bulk of the spend­ing will come later. But as con­struc­tion comes nearer, the real cost of HS2 will have to be paid.”

“It’s time to can­cel HS2 and use the money that will be saved on things that will ben­e­fit more peo­ple rather than a few fat cats.”

Stop HS2 cam­paign man­ager Joe Rukin

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