Written answers in the House of Commons have put the cost of the HS2 rail project at £41.25 billion, with over £1bn due to be spent in the lifetime of the current Parliament, before a vote on even the Hybrid Bill for Stage 1 is due to take place. In an answer a question put by Cheryl Gillan MP, Rail Minister Simon Burns stated on April 15th that the costs for 2013-14 and 2014-15 would be £367m and £443m.
Up until the end of January 2013, the HS2 project had cost £253m, putting the total cost before the next election at £1,063m, before the February-March 2013 costs are added.
Documents released on January 28th, showed the cost of Stage 2 of the line had jumped from £16.4bn to £18.2bn, with £600m of that increase in cost alleged to be related to the ‘handbrake turn’ around the more affluent areas of the Chancellors’ Tatton constituency. The cost of Stage 1 was put at £16.3bn, making the total construction cost £34.5bn. The £2bn jump in costs was then negated by shelving the £1.4bn cost of the spur to Heathrow for now, which keeps construction cost at £33.1bn.
However campaigners have long argued that the Government has been disingenuous when quoting the costs of this rail project, because they have never included the cost of the trains. In response to Mrs Gillan, Mr Burns stated that the capital cost estimate for rolling stock for Phases 1 and 2 is £8.15 billion at 2011 prices, bringing the cost of the project to £41.25 billion. If the Heathrow link were put back, the cost would stand at £42.65bn.
Stop HS2 Campaign Manager Joe Rukin said;
“We have been waiting a long while to get a cost on just how much the trains for HS2 are due to cost, but we are amazed that it is a high as £8.15bn. It’s been totally disingenuous that the Government have been quoting a £33bn cost for HS2, whilst neglecting to mention that trains are an extra. They have simply been trying to con the taxpayer from start to finish.”
“We’ve been saying HS2 will cost £1bn before the next election for three years. Finally we’ve had that confirmed and we very much doubt this is the last time the costs of the project will jump, as it is clear that the consultants contracts are getting out of control. One great example is Atkins, who got an 18 month £13.3m contact last year, but had already spent £14m in just nine months. Besides the fact these overspends seem endemic in the project, there are loads of other things which have been missed. If you look at the maps, there isn’t one single farm bridge, there isn’t one single foot bridge, but surely there will be some. Like trains, how HS2 gets connected to the existing network is another extra which is not in the budget, and it is very clear to everyone concerned that the cost of properly compensating the 300,000 affected householders would significantly increase the bill. It’s time to cancel this project before the costs escalate further.”
Penny Gaines, chair of Stop HS2 said;
“It’s becoming increasingly clear that the public are being misled by the Government over the costs of HS2. It is daft to build a railway line if you have no trains to run on it, but the Department for Transport’s figures suggest they think trains are an optional extra. We think the whole HS2 project is an environmentally damaging optional extra, and should be cancelled immediately.”