Another day, another government report on HS2 – and things aren't looking good for the embattled £50bn project.
A report by a House of Lords committee published this morning says the cost per mile of the high-speed rail project, which is supposed to cut the journey time between London and Manchester by 45 minutes, will be up to nine times more expensive than building similar high speed lines in France.
Lord Hollick, chairman of the Lords' Economic Committee, said there were still "key questions" to be answered – including whether there is evidence of an overcrowding problem on long-distance trains, and a "generous contingency" in the £50bn budget that could be used to hide increases in costs.
The government [is] basing the justification for HS2 on two factors – increased rail capacity and rebalancing the UK economy. We have not seen the evidence that it is the best way to deliver either.
The first phase of HS2, which will connect London and Birmingham, is due to open in 2026, reducing the journey time between the two cities from one hour 24 minutes to 49 minutes.
The second phase, a Y-shaped line running from Birmingham to Manchester and Leeds via Crewe and Liverpool to the West and Nottingham and Sheffield to the East, will be completed in 2032/33.