Prime Minister Boris Johnson has yet to make his mind up on the High Speed 2 rail project but called it “incredibly expensive” late last week, as a government-commissioned review into its future enters its final stages.
Speaking on the campaign trail in Nottingham near one of the railway’s planned stops, he said he was wary of putting the project “on the scrap heap”.
Speaking to Nottinghamshire Live, a local news outlet, Johnson said he has not read the review.
He said: “I love infrastructure. The problem with HS2, is that it’s incredibly expensive.
“Instinctively I hesitate as somebody who’s done a lot of big infrastructure projects, and who’s seen the damage that can be done to the UK by delaying big infrastructure, I hesitate before just taking something like HS2 and just putting it on the scrap heap.
“I think you need to look very carefully at whether there are savings to be made, whether you can do it another way round, and that’s the sensible thing to do and we will have an answer in the fullness and richness and maturity of time.”
HS2 has been dogged by delay, scandal and spiralling costs in recent years, prompting Johnson to commission the independent review into the divisive project, originally scheduled to land this autumn. He has admitted the costs of the HS2 would probably be “north of £100bn”.
City A.M. understands the HS2 review, which is headed up by the project’s former chairman Doug Oakervee, is nearly finished. However, it has been delayed until after the General Election on 12 December.
Shapps told the House of Commons in September that he would make a “go, no-go” decision in December – once he had seen the review.
Earlier this autumn Shapps revealed that the costs may spiral to £88bn by 2019 prices, against a budget of just over £62bn.
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