New HS2 chair is looking for cost savings

Marion Dakers
THE NEW chairman of HS2 pledged to cut some costs from the £42.6bn rail project yesterday.

Sir David Higgins said “there is no other way” to improve transport links to the north of England and that dropping the project would be “disastrous for the whole country”.

"The first thing I want to look at is the overall deliverability – time, can we make it quicker, can we get benefits to the north earlier – then how we can deliver it most effectively and hopefully that will deliver the cost savings," he told the BBC yesterday.

He added that his team has “good lines of communication” with the government and the Labour party, which appeared to be wavering in its support for the controversial scheme.

Higgins, the former boss of the 2012 Olympic Delivery Authority, has been drafted in to get HS2 back on track after months of criticism over the project’s ballooning budget.

He is expected to publish a report in March setting out possible cost and time savings to be made in the railway’s construction.

HS2 will offer quicker journey times from London to Birmingham by 2026 before extending to Manchester and Leeds in 2033.