In July 2017 Chris Grayling delivered an update on HS2 to Parliament in which he confirmed route changes on Phase 2b, started the Phase 2a bill process, and announced £6.6bn of contracts on Phase 1 which are now reported to be responsible for an over-spend – sorry ‘cost-gap’ – of around £3bn.
On that day, HS2 Shipley MP Philip Davies asked;
“There are many people, including in Yorkshire, who think that HS2 is a huge waste of money that could be better spent on infrastructure projects elsewhere in the region. He was bullish about the total figure that HS2 will cost. Will he therefore put a cap on the cost to make sure it does not overrun in the way some people think? At what point does he think HS2 will become too expensive? Or does he support this project whatever its ultimate cost?”
To which Chris Grayling replied:
“The taxpayers are paying the bill, but believe me the Treasury keeps a pretty careful watch on public spending and I have no doubt that it will be keeping a very weather eye on those costs, as will all the various bodies that look at public procurement projects and public construction projects. We have a good recent track record in delivering major projects on time and on budget—people have only to look at Crossrail to see that.”
Well yes, just look at Crossrail. Like HS2, for years the stubborn mantra has been that it is “on time and on budget”, and it has continued to be “on time and on budget” right up until the very point at which that lie could no longer hold any water.
Now everything is coming out, it looks like it’ll end up with a total overspend around £2bn, and it is going to be at least a year late.
Though to be honest, if HS2 was only going to end up £bn over-budget and a year late, that would be a great result…..
— Simon Harris (@simonharrisitv) December 10, 2018