A report from the National Audit Office has said the HS2 high-speed rail project faces major cost pressure and an unrealistic timetable. The NAO believes that the 2026 target opening date for the first phase was at risk despite making good progress. HS2 is still confident it can achieve all its goals.
In 10 years’ time the phase linking London and the West Midlands is due to be completed. The next section, running to Crewe is due to open a year later by 2027, with a further extension to Manchester and Leeds due to be finished by 2033.
MPs are due to vote on phase one later this year, if the bill is approved building can start on the line from London to Birmingham. HS2 ltd is due to hand out contracts worth £11bn over the next few months.
The NAO has said phase one was currently forecast to cost £27.4bn, exceeding available funding by £204m.
Responding to comments made by the NAO, HS2 Ltd welcomed the report and its confirmation that “whilst many challenges remain, the project is on track to deliver its strategic scope and to do so on budget”.