Project Managers with projects that are likely to come in over budget have a number of options. They can ask for more money, they can dip into the contingency budget – or they can descale the project by dropping bits off (the athletes flats in the Olympic Village had no kitchens – another project run by David Higgins).
HS2 has already had the link to HS1 dropped, and the Heathrow spur has been ‘paused’ for a very long time as well.
It seems David Higgins is planning to ditch the spur from Manchester to Wigan as well.
The spur was the topic of Transport questions in Parliament last week, when it also came out that this particularly bit of HS2 will cost far more than even the typically over-optimistic wider economic benefits:
David Mowat (Warrington South) (Con): What estimate he has made of the benefit-cost ratio of the High Speed 2 line north of Manchester. 
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Mr Robert Goodwill): The Department has not estimated the case for the western leg of the Y-shaped route for High Speed 2 without the connection to the west coast main line north of Manchester. However, preliminary analysis undertaken by HS2 Ltd suggested that this section of the line is likely to provide revenue of about £600 million and wider benefits in the order of £1.2 billion.
David Mowat: The Minister will be aware that the recent HS2 route review stated that the Wigan spur was under review. Subsequently, HS2 leadership has stated that its recommendation is that the Wigan spur be dropped, saving £2 billion with no detrimental impact on the business case. When will there be an announcement that will clear all of this up?
Mr Goodwill: Certainly all those options are under review. Indeed, in Sir David Higgins’s report “HS2 Plus” he talked about the need to speed up phase 2 and get the Crewe section by 2027, not 2033, with that new integrated hub at Crewe. Connections to the east coast main line and west coast main line are important to ensure that people further north of Manchester and Leeds can benefit from HS2. Further announcements will be made in due course.
Huw Irranca-Davies (Ogmore) (Lab): On cost-benefit analysis of rail infrastructure and the Wigan spur, does the Minister agree that investment in the Tondu loop to deliver a half-hour instead of an hourly interchange at the Maesteg-Llynfi line would be far better in terms of cost? Will he meet me and Network Rail to discuss the Tondu loop, for which we have been waiting five years?
Mr Goodwill: Yet another wonderful scheme on which the previous Government failed to deliver. I am sure that the Under-Secretary of State, my hon. Friend the Member for Devizes (Claire Perry), will be delighted to meet the hon. Gentleman to discuss that particular scheme.
The Warrington Guardian had more details in an article published online on 1st January:
In a meeting in the House of Commons [in December] the chief executive of HS2, David Higgins, told MPs the spur, which would cost £1billion alone, ‘no longer makes sense’.
And he said it would now be reconsidered.
The route is set to be confirmed in the new year when the decision is likely to be confirmed….
…No timescale has been given for the route to be confirmed, but it is likely to be before the election the Warrington Guardian understands.
We don’t think anything about HS2 makes sense and we’re not holding our breath for any announcements!