HS2 is over-budget and years behind schedule because ministers “underestimated the complexity” of the project, a damning official report states.
The National Audit Office said the Government did not “adequately manage risks to taxpayers’ money” and failed to “take into account” the sheer scale of the railway.
HS2, originally costed at £36 billion, is now forecast to cost £106 billion, but the NAO warned it is impossible to “estimate with certainty what the final cost could be”.
The NAO also suggested the first phase of HS2 – between London and Birmingham – will be delayed beyond the current opening date of 2033 unless work begins by March.
Boris Johnson is expected to make a final decision within weeks on whether to go ahead with the 335-mile network either wholly or in part, and faces a backbench rebellion on the issue, with one MP suggesting “well over half” of his parliamentary party want it axed.
Tory MP Victoria Prentis, who chairs the HS2 Review Group of MPs, said the NAO report was “incredibly damning” and hoped it would make the Prime Minister “think twice” on whether to press ahead with the project.
She said: “I do hope this puts more pressure on the Government to act. We can’t go on throwing money and resources on this project.”
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