HS2 trains ‘could be run slower in bid to cut costs’

The Scotsman - - Brexit - By TOM PIL­GRIM

Run­ning slower and fewer trains on the new HS2 line are among the op­tions avail­able to keep the rail project within bud­get, its chief ex­ec­u­tive has said.

Phase 1 of the £56 bil­lion high speed rail link will open be­tween Lon­don and Birm­ing­ham in De­cem­ber 2026 be­fore the rail­way is ex­tended to Crewe, Manch­ester and Leeds.

HS2 trains are de­signed to op­er­ate at up to 225mph and also serve lo­ca­tions on the ex­ist­ing main­line net­work, such as Liver­pool, New­cas­tle, Ed­in­burgh and Glas­gow.

But at a meet­ing with MPS, HS2 Ltd chief ex­ec­u­tive Mark Thurston said train speeds and fre­quency could be changed in an ef­fort to re­duce cost.

De­tails of the meet­ing of the All-party Par­lia­men­tary Rail Group in Novem­ber were re­vealed in a let­ter from Leader of the Com­mons An­drea Lead­som to Mr Thurston in which she raised con­cerns about the “vi­a­bil­ity” of the project.

She wrote: “My par­lia­men­tary as­sis­tant, who at­tended on my be­half, tells me that you in­formed the APPG that, ahead of the re­view of the busi­ness case for HS2 next year, a num­ber of changes to the project may have to be con­sid­ered in order to keep it within bud­get and on time – some­thing my col­league the Sec­re­tary of State for Trans­port has made clear is im­per­a­tive.”

Ms Lead­som said op­tions dis­cussed in­cluded low­er­ing train speeds by around 30mph and cut­ting trains from 18 to 14 an hour.

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