HS2 rail project delayed 2 years to save money

The British government will delay the construction of the Birmingham to Crewe HS2 railway section and its connection to central London, as well as a number of road projects, as ministers grapple with the impact of inflation on capital budgets.

Long hounded by cost overruns and delays, HS2 is being built in phases, with an initial section linking London and Birmingham already under construction.

The controversial project, which was originally planned as a new high speed line linking London to Manchester and Leeds via Birmingham, has been repeatedly delayed, cost overruns and downsizing.

The price of HS2 has skyrocketed from £33bn ten years ago to £100bn, making the project a prime candidate for savings. The opening of the first phase has already been pushed back from 2026 to 2029 to 2033, while much of the line to Leeds has been cut.

Transportation Secretary Mark Harper announced the latest delays on Thursday, blaming “inflationary headwinds” caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, as well as “supply disruption” due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“These headwinds have made it difficult to complete our capital investment programs and we understand that some schemes will take longer than expected,” he said. “Refocusing our efforts will allow us to double our efforts on the rest of our capital program.”

Harper said construction work on the Birmingham to Crewe section, known as Phase 2a, would be delayed by two years. It is part of the second section of the project linking Birmingham to Manchester, which has already been pushed back from 2033 to 2035-2041.

He also said the government would initially prioritize HS2 services from Birmingham and the new Old Oak Common station in west London, but insisted that ministers remain “committed” to eventually bringing the line to line. Central London Euston station.

Theft informed Last month, the government was exploring further delays and cuts to the project through two initiatives dubbed “Project Silverlight” and “Operation Blue Diamond” to cut costs over the next five years.

Louise Hay, shadow transport minister, said the north of England would have to “pay the price for the Conservatives’ stunning failure”.

Chris Fletcher, policy director at the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, understands the government’s financial constraints, but said the latest cuts raise more questions about ministers’ commitment to its flagship equalization policy designed to balance regional economic disparities.

“We view the decision to delay the necessary construction and further development of HS2 as a step in the wrong direction. We have already seen large parts of the scheme canceled or significantly reduced, and further delays, hesitation and uncertainty undermine any claims by this government that the increase is serious,” he said.

Railroad engineer and transport writer Gareth Dennis said the delay would undermine the entire scheme and the rail network as a whole. “If the government were truly committed to this project and its results, HS2 trains would be running to Manchester by the end of this decade – at prices much closer to the original budget than we see today,” he said.

Harper also announced that some road schemes would be delayed, including the A27 at Arundel and the A5036 at Princess Way in Liverpool.

In addition, construction will be delayed by two years on the Lower Thames Crossing, the road tunnel under the Thames, which will be the first new river crossing east of London in over 30 years.

The cuts to the largest infrastructure project come as the government struggles to cut capital spending across departments after inflation hit its highest levels in decades. Other projects to be shelved include some of the 40 new hospitals to be completed by 2030.

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