Thursday 18 October 2018 6:25 pm

HS2 will cost taxpayers 25 per cent more than similar schemes abroad, says leaked report

Reporter at City A.M. covering City politics, transport and law. Get in touch:

Reporter at City A.M. covering City politics, transport and law. Get in touch:

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High Speed Two (HS2) will end up costing taxpayers 25 per cent more than similar projects in other countries, a leaked report has said.

HS2 is projected to cost £56bn and will link London to the north in two phases: the first phase will link London to Birmingham and is set to open in 2026, while phase two will run from the West Midlands to Manchester in the west and Leeds in the east and will be complete by 2033.

The report leaked to the Financial Times and carried out by big four auditor PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) covers the second phase of the project but sources told the newspaper that its findings could be applied to the whole project.

The report has received a number of freedom of information requests by Labour peer Tony Berkeley, a critic of HS2.

He told the FT that the study confirmed his “worst fears that the project is likely to run massively over budget”.

Read more: Cost of buying land to build HS2 tripled to £3.3bn over six years

According to the report PwC drew comparisons with more than 32 foreign high-speed rail projects, including  the 621km Madrid-Barcelona line and the 301km Shanghai-Nanjing line. It found that HS2 would have more stations than such comparative schemes and that the UK had a higher population density than countries such as France and Spain, meaning there was more to pay in terms of land values and compensation.

A CBI spokesperson said: “HS2 offers a real opportunity to regenerate local economies, provide jobs and boost growth across communities in the UK. It is crucial that we maintain momentum and keep up the pace in parliament.” 

Chief executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance John O’Connell said: “By now, almost everybody agrees that HS2 will be a colossal waste of money that could be better spent on smaller transport projects, other essential services, or left in peoples’ pockets.

“But taxpayers deserve to know just how much of their money is or will be wasted on this widely-discredited project, especially as we know this report exists.

“It’s about time the government had the sense to scrap HS2 and free up the many billions of our money for other, better, causes."

HS2 and the Department for Transport (DfT) declined to comment.

Read more: HS2 hit by 12-month delay in further blow to controversial £56bn project