Fees for consultants on £33bn rail link 'higher than forecast'

Fees for consultants working on the much-criticised plans for the £33bn High Speed Two rail link from London to Scotland are "higher than forecast", according to the project board's latest published minutes.

Confirming recent revelations in The Independent on Sunday that HS2 is already threatening to bust its budget four years before construction even starts, the minutes also show that the board realised it has not made a strong enough argument for building a line that critics say will blight the countryside.

The minutes, from a meeting just before Christmas, referred to a plan to "move from being reactive to adverse commentary from opponent groups to focusing on the wider benefits of high speed rail". This appears to have been taken up since the meeting in arguments highlighting the benefits to regional economies when HS2 links up major cities in the North, such as creating 50,000 jobs at stations in Manchester and Leeds.

However, spending on professional services contracts, most of which is for designing rail routes and stations, has already reached more than £250m. Some of the contracts have broken their initial estimated budgets, with more work left to do on them before a hybrid Bill to approve the project is introduced in Parliament later this year.

The minutes of the meeting, whose attendees included HS2's chairman, Douglas Oakervee, and chief executive, Alison Munro, said: "It was noted that the current year rate of expenditure is higher than forecast on the professional services contractors."

There was also a reference to work on bringing down costs and expenditure on design work. It is understood that this team is looking at what can be stripped out of the HS2 proposals in order to meet that budget, with a major focus likely to be on how to deal with inflation of construction material costs.

However, industry sources believe that it is still likely that the budget will have to be revised, which could only mean that it would eventually be more than £33bn.

HS2 has cross-party support, and groups campaigning against the link lost virtually every argument they made in a judicial review of the project, the verdict of which came out last month. However, it is thought that officials at the Department for Transport are still edgy over the likelihood of mounting criticism over the need to move ancient woodland to make way for the project.

There have also been problems with the IT that has been used at HS2, which is, so far, the most expensive contract to have been dished out.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Sport
football
News
Tangerine Dream Edgar Froese
people
News
Rob Lowe
peopleRob Lowe hits out at Obama's snub of Benjamin Netanyahu
News
Davies (let) says: 'Everybody thought we were having an affair. It was never true!'
people'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Arts and Entertainment
Over their 20 years, the band has built a community of dedicated followers the world over
music
News
Staff assemble outside the old City Road offices in London
mediaThe stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century at Britain's youngest paper
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Life and Style
The Oliver twins, Philip and Andrew, at work creating the 'Dizzy' arcade-adventure games in 1988
techDocumentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Arts and Entertainment
Krall says: 'My hero player-singer is Elton John I used to listen to him as a child, every single record
music
Arts and Entertainment
The Wu-Tang Clan will sell only one copy of their album Once Upon A Time In Shaolin
musicWu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own only copies of their latest albums
News
i100
Environment
Number so freshwater mussels in Cumbria have plummeted from up to three million in the 20th century to 500,000
environment
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Tax Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Tax Assistant is required to join a leading ...

Recruitment Genius: Outbound Sales Executive - OTE £25,000

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Developer - Watford - £45,000 - £47,000

£45000 - £47000 per annum + bonus + benefits: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / ...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Product Manager - (Financial Services) - SW London

£35000 - £38000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - Marke...

Day In a Page

Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us