For almost a decade whenever Ministers, HS2 Ltd officials and other advocates have been asked about the costs of HS2, they have repeated the well-established mantra that “HS2 is on time and on budget”, no matter how blatantly clear it is that neither of these things are true.
Well, following in the footsteps of former HS2 Ltd Chairman Sir Terry Morgan, who last month tore up that script and admitted that ‘Nobody Knows” what HS2 will cost, the £600,000 per year HS2 Ltd CEO Mark Thurston has decided now, at a time when HS2 is quite frankly getting a long-overdue proper kicking and is more in danger of getting cancelled than ever before, to go similarly off-piste and rewrite a decade of history and claim that they’ve “Always Said” they wouldn’t know how much HS2 would cost, until the contractors are in place.
Whilst Thurston has also stated that the budget set by Government is £55.7bn and it is the job of HS2 Ltd to deliver the project for that budget, in an interview with Spencer Stokes for BBC Look North he decided suggest he does not believe that is possible, stating:
“We’ve always said we’ll really know what it’s going to cost to build high speed two once we’ve got all our contractors mobilised, our supply chain mobilised, this is a huge economic project for the country.”
Whilst it may well be the case that Thurston and others have “Always Said” this in private to Ministers and others in the inner circle, it is most certainly not what those politicians and HS2 Ltd employees have “Always Said” in public to everyone else.
Stop HS2 Campaign Manager Joe Rukin responded:
“For a decade every official source has repeated the dogmatic line that ‘HS2 is on time and on budget’, but now like some cowboy builder, Mark Thurston is trying to rewrite history, and claim they’ve ‘always said’ they’d only tell us the true cost when the final contracts are signed and it’s too late to say no. This just goes to prove that HS2 is being pushed for by a bunch of vested interest spivs whose only interest is seeing how much they can bleed the taxpayer dry for, and is one of the best reasons there has ever been to cancel this snouts in the trough feeding frenzy.”
Why Thurston chose whilst being interviewed by the BBC for to come out with this particular slice of semi-honesty is unknown, but the Stop HS2 campaign has taken this opportunity to add a bit more candour to the interview, by adding Honest Subtitles.