HS2 Cost Will Double to £111bn, According to New DfT Estimate

The projected bill for the HS2 high speed rail network has been estimated at £111bn, double the official £55.7bn figure being used by Government and HS2 Ltd. The estimate was commissioned by the Department for Transport and produced by Michael Byng, the man who rewrote the book on rail cost estimation, devising the standard method of costing which has been adopted by Network Rail following several high-profile failures to accurately cost their projects.

This revelation, published in The Sunday Times (paywall), comes ahead of a big week for HS2 Ltd in which they are expected to: appoint consultants to produce final designs for Phase 1 from London to Birmingham; deposit a bill in Parliament for the Phase 2a extension to Crewe; and publish the final route for Phase 2b to Manchester and Leeds.
Using his “rail method of measurement” formulae to calculate the projected costs of HS2, Byng said that Phase 1 of would cost £48bn, with construction of the entire project coming in at £104bn. This estimate did not include the cost of the trains, which would add around another £7bn, putting the total bill for HS2 at £111bn, double the £55.7bn official estimate.

Lord Berkeley, chairman of the Rail Freight Group, had originally asked Byng to use his model to re-evaluate the costs of the section between Euston and Old Oak Common, which he put at £8.25bn. Byng told The Sunday Times:

“HS2 has not questioned the figure, or my methodology, nor have they come up with any structured estimate of their own. A couple of days later I got a call from the DfT saying, look, if 6.6 miles is going to cost us £8.25bn, 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.”

Infrographic on HS2 costs from The Sunday Times

Infrographic on HS2 costs from The Sunday Times

It is anticipated that the contractors who will complete the final design of Phase 1 of HS2 will be appointed this week. This process of final design is expected to take up to 18 months, and will quite probably see another increase in cost, meaning construction of Phase 1 is currently two years behind schedule, even though HS2 Ltd have recently ‘rebranded’ enabling works as ‘construction’, so they can spin that construction has started on time.

Also this week, it is expected that a hybrid bill will be deposited in parliament for Phase 2a of HS2, though whether it will include the promised but uncosted station at Crewe is unclear.

On top of that, the final announcement of the Phase 2b route is expected to be announced on Monday. It is expected that the route will not change substantially from the revised route published last year, which removed the standalone Sheffield station.

Stop HS2 Campaign Manager Joe Rukin responded:

“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. Since the start, the case for HS2 has been invented by the very cheerleaders who intend to rake in billions of taxpayers’ money which is desperately needed elsewhere, so it really is time to ditch this gigantic white elephant, before it is too late.”

Penny Gaines, chair of Stop HS2 added,

“The budget for HS2 has always seemed more fantasy than reality.  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.”

“More environmental destruction, more cost, but no new ideas – that’s what HS2 Phase 2 b is.  While it has been presented to help transport in the north, HS2 is mainly about making it easier to get to London, as there are no east west links involved.  It will make no difference to journeys from Leeds to Manchester or Sheffield to Manchester.  And with no links to HS1 in the plans, it will not help with journeys from the north to continental Europe.”

“With driverless cars being trialled in Milton Keynes and successful hyperloop testing elsewhere, it’s clear that high speed rail is just a faster variant of existing technology.  Government ministers are calling for HS2 cheerleaders because there is no underlying support for it beyond a handful of rail enthusiasts and the contractors set to raid the public purse.  But even supporters of HS2 only manage to drum up airy fairy ‘benefits for mankind’ as reasons to back it.”

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9 comments on “HS2 Cost Will Double to £111bn, According to New DfT Estimate
  1. The unanswerable question at the heart of transport is the one asked by the farm labourer standing bemused one day in the mid-eighteenth century at the side of the Liverpool-Manchester turnpike, crowded with urgently-speeding coaches: “Who would ever have thought that there were so many people in the wrong place?”
    From Lean Logic ~ David Fleming 1940-2010

  2. This is so crazy on so many levels. Saving less than thirty minutes from Leeds to London is nothing. We need to use tax payers money far more wisely than this

  3. this is so depressing and frustrating. It seems total madness to continue with this waste of money. It just seems that most people do not want it but are indifferent to doing anything about it. I think the campaign to stop it needs more publicity. I keep telling people but nobody seems to think it will make any difference.
    The bad news always seems to get buried.
    When we went to the conference in Shropshire a few years ago it just seemed to be for the people who wanted compensation but many people like ourselves who are not on the route are still angry about it and are trying hard to get it stopped on the finance and environmental issues.

  4. HS2 is such a huge white elephant! why not spend all that money on the rail network by electrification, reopening lines and removing bottle-necks?! Im a big rail fan but no fan of HS2 or HS3. Terrible waste of money!

  5. This is public money and should be a public vote. 30 mins put that I to £ it dosnt add up abersululy ridicules.what a waste of money that could be put to better use.

  6. Grayling, indicates why there is complete lack of trust in this Govt.
    Due to cover-ups and suppression of inconvenient and adverse reports of which he is well aware, contracts have now been awarded on the basis of false information. All Grayling can say is the Govt. has a “clear idea” of what HS2 will cost. Presumably that means they know that it will cost far more than the official budget of £55.7bn, but contracts will be awarded on that basis, and any excess will be “lost” so taxpayers are unaware. He also talked about a 15 year time scale, the first stage from now until 2026 is reputed to cost maybe £44bn. That means nearly £5bn. pa. It continues to stink.

  7. Pingback: HS2 announcements expected this week – Ashow Village

  8. Just imagine what could be achieved with £111 billion! As the government continues to slash budgets in its austerity (for the already struggling) drive it proceeds blindly on an unnecessary vanity project.

    Unfortunately, political opponents are equally as weak/vain.

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