Government denies HS2 will be over budget

Department for Transport insists scheme will stay within its £42bn estimate

The Government has restated its commitment to the controversial HS2 rail project, despite a warning that its eventual cost could almost double to £80bn.

A study by the Institute for Economic Affairs (IEA), which concluded the controversial scheme “defines economic logic”, added to growing criticism of the proposals.

The think-tank called for ministers to abandon the project to build a 250mph rail link between London and Birmingham by 2026, followed by further lines to the North of England six years later.

But the Department for Transport insisted the scheme would stay within its £42bn estimated budget and added: “HS2 is absolutely vital for this country, providing a huge economic boost.”

In an analysis published today (MON), the IEA says the scheme's cost has been vastly underestimated and had failed to take into account changes to routes and extra tunnelling because of local opposition.

Richard Wellings, its author, said: “The evidence is now overwhelming that this will be unbelievably costly to the taxpayer while delivering incredibly poor value for money.”

In a separate report, the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) claims life in towns and villages up to 25 miles from the high-speed rail route will be disrupted while it is being built.

According to the CPRE, residents of towns such as Thame in Oxfordshire and Leamington Spa in Warwickshire will have to endure for years the sound of millions of journeys by construction lorries.

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