HS2: Parts of construction delayed for two years
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Delaying HS2 will increase the eye-watering cost of the railway line rather than lower it, Labour has claimed. Shadow transport secretary Louise Haigh told the Commons today she had seen a leaked Government document which “blows apart” Transport Secretary Mark Harper’s claims that extending the high speed rail project’s timeframe would save money.
Ms Haigh said: “His chief justification for the delays to HS2 were to balance the nation’s books, but here his own department admit what he will not, that the delays itself will increase costs.
“They admit it will cost jobs, that construction firms could go bust.
“They cannot rule out slashing high speed trains serving Stoke, Macclesfield and Stafford altogether.
“They suggest it could terminate on the outskirts of London until 2041. Isn’t it time the minister came clean? This absurd plan will hit jobs, hurt growth, and cost taxpayers even more.”
She added: “Even the Government has lost faith in this Government, and little wonder. Is there anything more emblematic of this failed Government than their flagship levelling up project that neither makes it to the North or to central London?”
Responding to Labour, Transport minister Huw Merriman said: “Obviously we do not comment on leaked documents, certainly not documents that I have not been given at all.”
He added: “It is an entirely responsible Government approach to balance the commitments that we make and as I state, the transport commitments total £40 billion that have been set out to the House, and indeed also reflect the delivery to HS2 as had been designed.”
The minister said the Government had to bear in mind the impact of “public spending pressures” such as energy bills support on other commitments.
He added: “It would entirely irresponsible of any Government to look at all of its portfolio without those figures in mind.”
It comes after the Transport Secretary last week announced the Birmingham to Crewe leg of HS2 will be delayed by two years under cost-saving measures.
In a written ministerial statement, Mr Harper insisted that the Government is “committed” to delivering the high-speed rail link between Birmingham and Crewe.
But he added: “We have seen significant inflationary pressure and increased project costs, and so we will rephase construction by two years, with an aim to deliver high-speed services to Crewe and the North West as soon as possible after accounting for the delay in construction.”
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