Once more the cost of HS2 speeds up

From 51M:

£50bn - Before

£50bn – Before

Ever since HS2 was given the go ahead in January, 2012 those challenging the project have claimed that the then £40bn budget would rise substantially as the scheme progressed with the final bill exceeding £70bn. Such claims were ridiculed by supporters.

Fast forward to 2015 and that sum for the ultimate cost looks positively modest.

The business case for HS2 has always been incredibly weak. One response to this with respect to the benefit-cost ratio, has meant that benefits are given the widest possible definition, while costs are far more tightly set. But even this jaded smoke and mirrors routine is running out of track.

It is nearly two years since the appointment of the on time and on budget maestro, Sir David Higgins, to run HS2 Ltd with the brief from Patrick McLoughlin to actually cut the scheme’s price tag. It hasn’t happened.

Last week the HS2 budget was revised to £55.7bn but no breakdown was given to indicate what assumptions had been used to arrive at this figure. It’s a safe bet the once substantial contingency element has been much reduced.

Before the week was out the scheme’s finances took another blow.

It was reported that the impact of the Barnet formula on the project would add a further £7.4bn. Northern Ireland and Scotland will receive the full Barnet consequential payments but bafflingly Wales will not.

So this November marked the date when HS2 went through the £60bn barrier, with the total now standing at £61.1bn. How long before the runaway train speeds past £70bn?

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