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HS2 rated ‘unachievable’ by infrastructure watchdog over budget and schedule concerns

HS2 has been rated “unachievable” by the infrastructure watchdog over “major issues” with its budget and schedule.

The Infrastructure and Projects Authority (IPA) gave the high-speed rail project a “red” rating for the construction plans for the first two phases, from London to Birmingham and then to Crewe in Cheshire.

IPA’s annual report released last week states: “Successful delivery of the project appears to be unachievable.

“There are major issues with project definition, schedule, budget, quality and/or benefits delivery, which at this stage do not appear to be manageable or resolvable.

“The project may need re-scoping and/or its overall viability reassessed.”

It comes after HS2 Ltd’s chief executive Mark Thurston, 56, resigned earlier this month in the face of significant delays and cost pressures surrounding the high-speed railway initiative.

Having led the Government-owned company for six-and-a-half years, he will step down from his position in September.

HS2 was meant to open in 2026 but it has been pushed back to between 2029 and 2033 due to difficulties with construction, numerous Government-imposed changes and mounting expenses.

Earlier this year, transport secretary Mark Harper told MPs on the Transport Select Committee that the rail link might not reach central London until 2040.

He also admitted that delays to the troubled high-speed rail project would not save money.

The entire project was given an initial budget of £55.7 billion in 2015 but the target cost has soared to between £53 billion and £61 billion at 2019 prices, excluding the eastern leg of Phase 2b from the West Midlands to the East Midlands.

The construction of a new station at Euston has been paused for two years as the budget of £2.6 billion has been blown, with costs soaring to £4.8 billion.

The first phase of the project between London and Birmingham is at peak construction, with major work underway in more than 350 locations.

A Department for Transport spokesman said: “Spades are already in the ground on HS2, with 350 construction sites, over £20 billion invested to date and supporting over 28,500 jobs.

“We remain committed to delivering HS2 in the most cost-effective way for taxpayers.

“HS2 will bring transformational benefits for generations to come, improving connections and helping grow the economy.”

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