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HS2 rail project has £3.3bn funding gap, watchdog says

The proposals have faced bitter opposition from campaigners. Credit: PA

The HS2 high-speed rail project has an estimated £3.3 billion funding gap which the Government has yet to decide how to fill, a report from a Whitehall spending watchdog said today.

It was not clear how HS2 - which runs through Tory heartlands and is bitterly opposed by some - would deliver and rebalance economic growth, the report by the National Audit Office (NAO) added.

The timetable for planning phase one of the project - from London to Birmingham with work due to start in 2016/17 - was "challenging", the NAO said.

This challenging timetable "makes delivering this work difficult and increases the risk that the programme will have a weak foundation for securing and demonstrating success in the future", the report said.

Claire Lomas trains for Nottingham to London cycle

Claire Lomas is training today for her big challenge at the end of April when she hand cycles from Nottingham to London. That is the equivalent of a marathon a day over three weeks.

Claire Lomas approaching the finish of the London Marathon last year Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Claire was paralysed from the waist down when she was injured in a horse riding accident. Last year she became the first person to complete the London Marathon using a robotic walking suit in a time of 17 days.

This year Claire will be cycling down to London with 60 other riders in a specially designed wheelchair.


  1. National

Journey times in High Speed rail network

The government has projected the following journey times when the HS2 high speed rail network is completed:

  • Manchester to Birmingham - 41m (roughly half of current journey time)
  • Manchester to London - 1h 8m (roughly half of current journey time)
  • Leeds to Birmingham - 57m (down from 1h 58m)
  • Leeds to London - 1hr 22m (down from 2h 12m)

Colleague messaged Pete Barnes before flight to warn of bad weather

Pete Barnes was warned of the bad weather by a colleague Credit: ITV News

Less than an hour before Pete Barnes was killed in a helicopter crash, another pilot who was aware of his journey sent him a message, saying: "Give me a call as I have checked the weather and freezing fog around at the moment."

Mr Barnes then called the pilot to tell him the weather at Redhill, where he was departing from, was all clear. He said he knew there was fog at Elstree but was going to fly overhead to see for himself.

Pete Barnes was due to collect a client and was warned by them too about the weather conditions. He sent his client a text message back, saying "I'm coming anyway will land in a field if I have to."

The client called the pilot again to suggest that he didn't take off but Pete said he had already started the engines.

Pilot's final words before crash: "Thanks a lot"

Pete Barnes from Nottingham died in a helicopter crash in London last week Credit: ITV News

The final words of a pilot killed in a helicopter crash in London last week have been revealed.

Pete Barnes, 50, from Nottingham, died from multiple injuries when the helicopter he was flying crashed into a crane on The Tower at St George Wharf in South London.

A pedestrian, 39-year-old Matthew Wood, was also killed as he walked to work.

Air Accidents Investigation Branch confirmed Mr Barnes had a radio conversation with air traffic control just seven seconds before the crash.

Mr Barnes requested to land at London Heliport in Battersea.

After being told Battersea was open, he replied: "If I could head to Battersea that would be useful."

He was told: "Battersea diversion approved, you're cleared to Battersea".

Pete Barnes' final words, just seconds before the crash, were: "Thanks a lot."

Latest on Midlands air ambulance pilot death

Peter Barnes Credit: ITV News

The pilot who died in a helicopter crash in central London has been diverted because of bad weather, before his aircraft clipped a crane and fell to the ground, an inquest heard today.

Peter Barnes was an experienced pilot who had flown with Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Rutland air ambulance. The 50-year-old was born in Nottingham.

Mr Barnes, a father of two, had been flying from Redhill Aerodrome in Surrey to Elstree in Hertfordshire, but was diverted to Battersea heliport due to the bad weather, Southwark Coroner's Court heard.

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