Build HS2 'sooner' to save money, says rail boss

The boss of HS2 is urging politicians to support the high speed rail link to the North West or risk costs spiraling. The chairman of the rail project publishes a progress report today. David Higgins says it must be built sooner to save money.

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Build HS2 "sooner" to save money, says rail boss

Plans have been unveiled which could see the High Speed rail link to the North West built seven years faster than the original scheme.

The new chairman of the HS2 project, Sir David Higgins, announced to an audience in Manchester today that he thinks the rail link from London could be up and running by 20-27 - and can be delivered for less than the 50 billion pound price-tag.

Sceptics say the costs are bound to rise, while some campaigners think the line shouldn't be built at all.

Mel Barham reports:

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The HS2 scheme is "too big a project to become a political football" - Chairman

Sir David Higgins has challenged politicians to push forward with the £50billion HS2 project.

The more certainty there is about the timescale, the more possible it is to control cost through economies of scale.

That is why getting clarity over the duration of the parliamentary process is key. The more clarity Parliament can provide the more I can reduce contingency and therefore the ultimate cost.

This project is too big to become a political football.

– Sir David Higgins, HS2 chairman

Plans could see Manchester route "completed by March 2030"

Under the accelerated plan put forward by Sir David, the Manchester leg of phase two could be completed by the end of March 2030, with the Leeds leg finished by the end of June 2030.

Sir David added that phase one could be operational by Christmas 2026, while his redevelopment vision for Euston would require relocation of certain existing rail services during constructions.

Sir David also said that constructing the London stage of the project represented HS2's "biggest challenge".

In addition, decisions would be needed on London commuter connections and a link between the West Coast main line and the cross-London Crossrail scheme.

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High speed rail costs could spiral without agreement

Politicians have been told to get behind the high speed rail link or risk costs spiralling out of control.

The chairman of HS2, Sir David Higgins, has published his first report on the project since he took up the role at the beginning of the year.

He's warned the £50 billion cost of the project will escalate if it gets bogged down in parliamentary infighting.Sir David has recommended bringing forward construction of the West Midlands to Manchester stretch of the line from a start date of 2026.

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