The High Speed 2 rail project is under financial strain and could be delayed by a year, the Whitehall spending watchdog said.
The National Audit Office (NAO) warned that the 2026 target date for opening phase one between London and the West Midlands is "at risk".
It revealed that the Department for Transport (DfT) has asked the company responsible for building the railway, HS2 Ltd, to assess the impact of extending its timetable by up to 12 months.
The DfT has also called on the firm to revisit its schedule in a bid to increase its confidence of completing phase one on time from 60% to 80% without increasing costs.
Cost forecasts for phase one exceed available funding by £204 million, while phase two - taking the line to north-east and north-west England - contains some elements that are "currently unfunded", the report said.
HS2 is a large, complex and ambitious programme which is facing cost and time pressures. The unrealistic timetable set for HS2 Ltd by the Department means they are not as ready to deliver as they hoped to be at this point. The Department now needs to get the project working to a timescale that is achievable.
Today's NAO report shows that preparations to deliver High Speed 2 are under severe strain.
The Department for Transport has, yet again, set unrealistic timetables for delivering this programme and HS2 Ltd is only 60% confident that it will complete phase 1 by December 2026.
But Transport Minister Robert Goodwill insisted that HS2 is "on track" despite the NAO warning that the £55.7 billion railway is facing financial pressures.
We have strong cross party support and are on schedule to gain the powers needed to start building HS2, which the NAO acknowledges is a significant achievement.
We are on course to start construction next year and complete the scheme on time and budget.
It says the Department for Transport buried a report into the HS1 London to Channel Tunnel line that would have undermined the case for HS2.Read the full story ›
With building work scheduled to start in 2017 on the London to West Midlands leg of HS2, a commissioner is being recruited to impartially investigate any issues that arise during construction of this much-needed new infrastructure project.
HS2 is said to bring huge benefits for the country, freeing up capacity on the network, improving connections between the biggest cities, and helping to boost and re-balance the economy.
This new role will ensure that any unresolved complaints are investigated and mediated fairly.
We want to be a good neighbour throughout the time we build this vital new rail network.
A Code of Construction Practice will also be put in place as we look to minimise disruption to local residents and businesses.
But if there are any problems we want people to be reassured that there is an independent commissioner they can look to for additional help.
The Government has confirmed funding is available for a college in Birmingham dedicated to training the next generation of engineers to deliver HS2.
The National College for High Speed Rail will welcome its first intake of students in 2017. HS2 say they hope to create up to 2,000 apprenticeships by building the new rail lines.
“The college will have a major and hugely positive impact on the ability of the UK rail supply industry to develop a multi-skilled specialist British workforce that is essential to the timely delivery of HS2 and the ability to respond to other infrastructure projects in future.”
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The Leader of Nottinghamshire County Council Councillor Alan Rhodes has issued the following statement on Toton becoming the preferred option for a HS2 station in the East Midlands.
“Nottinghamshire County Council has always been fully committed, 100 per cent, to Toton as we believe that a hub there would serve both Nottingham and Derby,"
“Toton would provide excellent overall connectivity for Nottinghamshire as a whole – including places to the north of the county like Kirkby and Mansfield – and bring enormous economic benefits, as well as improving travel time for passengers.
“Bringing HS2 to Nottinghamshire, combined with the dualling of the A453, will help make our county a place where businesses can flourish.”
The final decision on where the East Midlands station will be built will be made by Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin MP, who will set out how the Government plans to take Phase Two of the high speed rail project forward later this year.
The chairman of the HS2 project has confirmed that plans for a station in the East Midlands will be put forward for Toton.Read the full story ›
Trains on the £50 billion HS2 high-speed line should have on-board GPs, shops and gyms, according to "a wish-list" drawn up by passengers.Read the full story ›
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The Government has yet to make a convincing case for HS2, a highly-critical report by a House of Lords committee says.Read the full story ›