HS2: All the delays and U-turns on £100bn rail project since it started
The High Speed 2 rail project has been beset by delays and cost re-evaluations ever since it was first put forward in 2009.
The government has announced fresh delays to some sections of the High Speed 2, or HS2, pushing parts of the project back by a further two years.
In a written statement to MPs, Transport Secretary Mark Harper announced the delay of the Birmingham to Crewe leg of HS2, blaming increased costs and inflation.
Phase One of HS2 involves the railway being built between London and Birmingham, with the line extended from the West Midlands to Crewe in Phase 2a.
Phase 2b will connect both Crewe to Manchester and the West Midlands to the East Midlands.
Watch: HS2: Parts of rail project to be delayed for two years
The announcement comes come after HS2 Ltd chief executive Mark Thurston said the impact on the project from inflation has been “significant”, adding to the cost of building materials, labour, fuel and energy.
The Transport Secretary also confirmed the government would be prioritising HS2 services between the Midlands and Old Oak Common, suggesting that those using the high speed line to travel from Birmingham to London would still have to complete their journeys into central London using the London Underground, adding time on to their journeys.
The £106bn HS2 project has been beset by delays and cost re-evaluations ever since it was first put forward in 2009.
The project has been dogged by criticism over its financial and environmental impact.
In October 2020, levelling up secretary Michael Gove suggested capital investment for HS2 would be reviewed, but Hunt subsequently backed the project.
The target cost of Phase One between London and Birmingham was £40.3bn.
A budget of £55.7 billion for the whole of HS2 was set in 2015, but this has since spiralled to an estimated £72bn-£98bn at 2019 prices. That budget is now likely to be much higher due to rising inflation.
It is just the latest blow to the HS2 project, which has ballooned in cost and angered residents and politicians.
The first phase between London and Birmingham was supposed to open at the end of 2026, but this has been pushed back to between 2029 and 2033. The second phase, originally scheduled to open in 2032, is now expected as late at 2040.
The delays and U-turns of the beleaguered HS2 project:
The then Labour government sets up HS2 Ltd to look at the case for building a high-speed railway line.
HS2 is given the green light by the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government, despite concerns about its cost and its impact on the environment. It has an initial budget of £32bn.
The projected cost of delivering HS2 rises to £42bn.
The House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee notes that the new projected cost for HS2 is £56bn.
The National Audit Office warns the project is already under financial strain and could be delayed by a year.
The government announces a review of HS2 which will analyse whether it should continue to go ahead, with the Department for Transport promises a “go or no-go” decision by the end of that year.
The review will be led by former HS2 Ltd chairman Douglas Oakervee.
Later that month, the BBC reports the government and HS2 bosses knew the project was over budget and behind schedule three years previously in 2016.
HS2 Ltd chairman Allan Cook says HS2 may not be completed until 2040 and could cost as much as £88bn.
The Oakervee Review is delivered and finds that costs have ballooned even more, projecting an overall cost of £106bn.
However, the report finds that the project should continue.
That same month, the National Audit Office accuses the government of underestimating the complexity of the project, saying it is impossible to say with certainty just how much the final cost of HS2 could be.
Despite the concerns, prime minister Boris Johnson gives another green light to HS2, approving the entire line.
MPs say the HS2 project has gone “badly off course” and that further increases in costs cannot be ruled out.
Read more: HS2 costs ‘rose by £1.7bn in past year’
The all-party Public Accounts Committee accused the Department for Transport of hiding information about delays and cost overruns.
Formal construction on HS2 begins, with Johnson saying it is an “incredible” project and “crucial for our country”.
MPs say there is “no clear end in sight” to the cost and delays of HS2.
The Public Accounts Committee said it is “increasingly alarmed” about key parts of the project.
The government says that dealing with anti-HS2 protests has cost the high speed rail project up to £80m.
Johnson tells the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester that his government “will do Northern Powerhouse Rail, we will link up the cities of the Midlands and the North”.
The government is accused of committing a 'great robbery' as Grant Shapps confirms that the eastern leg of HS2 to Leeds has been scrapped.
Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner said Northern Powerhouse Rail – the name given to proposals for an east-to-west high-speed train line across the North – had been “a fraud”.
A £3bn branch of the High Speed 2 network designed to speed up rail journeys between London and Scotland is quietly ditched by ministers, provoking outrage from rail industry groups.
Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon and Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham have since held private meetings about the best way to replace the axed Golborne link to take high-speed trains to Scotland.
Transport Secretary Mark Harper announces the delay of the Birmingham to Crewe leg of HS2, blaming increased costs and inflation.
In a written statement to MPs, Harper also confirms the government will be prioritising HS2 services between the Midlands and Old Oak Common outside central London, meaning commuters from Birmingham to the capital will have to continue their journeys from the western suburbs using the Tube, adding journey time.
Harper's announcement does not appear to give a definitive date of when HS2 will be completed so people can travel direct into London Euston.
Watch: Rishi Sunak fails to commit to eastern HS2 Leeds leg