As the cost of HS2 continues to rise, critics wonder if now is the time to cut our losses.
According to a prominent rail advisor, the £6 billion cost of abandoning HS2 is a “drop in the ocean” compared to the £100 billion or more cost of finishing the high-speed line.
Michael Byng stated that scrapping the contentious project in favor of improving regional transportation linkages was “definitely” practical and less expensive.
HS2 has already received almost £11 billion in funding.
The first route from London to Birmingham, which is still under construction, was scheduled to open at the end of 2026.
Mr Byng, a construction economist who established Network Rail’s cost-estimating standards, reckons it might be delayed for another 13 years, until 2033.
The second leg, from the West Midlands to Crewe, is expected to be delayed until at least 2039, according to him.
The third, which will run from Crewe to Manchester and from the West Midlands to Leeds, is expected to arrive between 2045 and 2050.
Mr Byng claims that HS2 is “financially out of control,” alleging that the bill could reach £160 billion.
Other critics argue that the pandemic has irreversibly transformed our lives and that the initiative is already outdated.
HS2 Ltd, which is in charge of the project, disputes Mr Byng’s worst-case estimate of £160 million.
Mr Byng praised the company’s handling of the epidemic, claiming that the calamity could have added another £2 billion to the cost.
“The total cost of canceling HS2 is around £6.24 billion, which sounds like a lot of money,” he continued.
“However, it’s a drop in the ocean compared to the £231 billion in railway projects the government has committed to in the last several years, including HS2.”
The independent Oakervee Review, which was commissioned by ministers last year, warned that the eventual bill for
The total cost of the HS2 Y-shaped network might be £106 billion.
According to 2009 estimates, the government estimated that HS2 will cost £37.5 billion.
It is currently estimated to be worth between £72 billion and £98 billion, according to government estimates.
In addition, the National Audit Office noted it was hard to “estimate with precision what the final cost could be” in a spending report.
The £11 billion already spent has been spent in part on land and property purchases, according to HS2 minister Andrew Stephenson.
However, according to another expert, some of that can be clawed back.
According to Doug Thornton, former head of property for HS2 Ltd, a statute allows the site to be resold if the project is cancelled.
“If the land hasn’t been considerably altered by the purchasing authority, it can be sold back to,” he stated.