The £5BILLION HS2 property disaster: Buying land for the route is set ‘to cost five times budget’, campaigners warn
- There was an original budget of £1.1bn for buying properties along the route
- HS2 Ltd admitted yesterday it had already spent double their initial budget
- UK’s biggest ever infrastructure project’s overall spend could soar to £100bn
The cost of buying the land for the first stretch of the HS2 rail link is likely to spiral to £5billion, campaigners warned last night.
That is nearly five times the original £1.1billion budget for purchasing properties along the route between London and Birmingham.
HS2 Ltd admitted it has already splashed out more than £2billion – almost double its initial budget – on land and property, including offices, shops, farms and houses.
The figures, revealed following a Freedom of Information request, led the Stop HS2 Bramley Action Group to claim the final bill for the purchases will hit £5billion.
The Stop HS2 Bramley Action Group submitted a Freedom of Information request revealed the staggering figures
The figures, released a day after HS2 revealed plans for a £1billion ‘super-hub’ station at Old Oak Common in west London (computer generated image of the plans)
A map showing the HS2 line (phase one) as well as the other branches across the rest of the country
The National Audit Office (NAO) said in September that the cost would be at least £3.3billion.
The Treasury has budgeted £4.3billion, just in case, but there are fresh fears that the total cost of Britain’s biggest infrastructure project will far exceed its revised £56billion budget, with some experts predicting a final cost of well over £100billion.
The figures, released a day after HS2 revealed plans for a £1billion ‘super-hub’ station at Old Oak Common in west London, show it has purchased 279 of the 368 residential homes it needs to buy, at a cost of £246.5million.
But only 466 of the 1,196 far more expensive commercial premises – including offices, shops and farms – have been bought at a cost of £1.8billion.
In addition to inflation, changes to the route made while the HS2 Bill was going through Parliament have increased costs.
Stop HS2 campaign manager Joe Rukin said: ‘Yet again, when we find out more of the truth that they are trying to hide about HS2, we find out the costs have gone up by a couple of billion.
‘This proves they are way behind schedule, but we will get the same old fingers-in-ears response that HS2 is “on time and on budget”.’
It recently emerged that HS2 bosses are so concerned about costs they are considering plans for slower, less regular services.
The firm was accused of misleading MPs over its budget last year following claims by Douglas Thornton, its former director of land and property.
He said executives knowingly underestimated the cost of property and he was fired for refusing to accept their valuations.
Critics of HS2, who include a significant number of MPs, say it would be better to spend the cash on improving Britain’s creaking rail network.
Last month Treasury Secretary Liz Truss hinted the project could be scrapped as she stressed the Government must be prepared to junk ‘white elephant’ projects.
Computer images of what the triple-level Old Oak Common super-hub station should look like
HS2 Ltd admitted yesterday that it has already spent more than £2.2billion on property along the route
The first phase is supposed to be completed by 2026, with trains running from London to the West Midlands
However, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling insists HS2 will be delivered on time and on budget.
HS2 said: ‘The cost of the land acquisition programme reflects changes to scope, land value and parliamentary amendments that took place during the passage of the HS2 Bill in 2016.
‘The NAO highlights that this is normal for a programme of HS2’s scale. The report also shows we now have a reasonable estimate of costs that we are delivering within our budget.’