HS2 chief: £80bn claim 'absurd'

The chief executive of the High Speed 2 has dismissed claims that the rail project will cost £80 billion as "absurd". A report by Institute for Economic Affairs, due out on Monday, says the costs are likely to double the current estimate.

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HS2 chief forced to defend project amid new claims

Plans for High Speed 2 took a blow today as they were attacked on both financial and environmental grounds.

A report by the Institute for Economic Affairs suggested that the cost of the project is likely to double official estimates, reaching £80 billion.

The charity Campaign for Rural England also said it believes half a million people - including some living 40 miles from the planned route - would be affected by the construction.

But the chief executive of HS2, Alison Munro, described the claimw as "absurd" and insisted the project would remain within budget.

ITV News correspondent Lewis Vaughan Jones reports:

Estimates of HS2 impact based on 'worst case' scenario

The chief executive of High Speed 2, Alison Munro, has said that new data on the number of people that will be affected by the rail project are based on a "worst case" scenario.

She said she expected to minimise the number of lorries travelling to and from the construction project by re-using 95% of the material that is excavated.

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HS2 chief dismisses £80bn figure as 'absurd'

The chief executive of High Speed 2, Alison Munro, has dismissed the claim that the rail project will cost £80 billion - more than double the official estimate - as "absurd".

She told ITV News that she "doesn't recognise" the figure allegedly quoted in a report by the Institute of Economic Affairs, and that she is confident the cost will not overrun.

HS2: 'Crescendo of opposition getting louder'

The IEA's [Institute of Economic Affairs] study is the most hard-hitting attack on the project by an independent group so far.

The crescendo of opposition to this project is just getting louder and louder and the government is still not listening.We've long suspected that the only people pushing for this vanity project are those with vested interests.

The IEA report is clear - that councils and chambers of commerce in cities which will get stations, along with the firms which will get billions of pounds from building HS2, are the only ones lobbying for HS2.

– Joe Rukin, campaign manager, StopHS2

Govt 'committed to managing the cost' of HS2

A Department for Transport spokesman said the Government were "committed to managing the cost" of HS2 after a report suggested the project had doubled in cost to at least £80 billion.

HS2 is absolutely vital for this country, providing a huge economic boost which will generate a return on investment that will continue paying back for generations to come.

Without it the key rail routes connecting London, the Midlands and the North will be overwhelmed. HS2 will provide the capacity needed in a way that will generate hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions of pounds worth of economic benefits.

The Government is committed to managing the cost within the budget we have set for the project and to securing maximum value for money for the taxpayer, while also ensuring that preparations are properly made for the most significant infrastructure investment the UK has seen in modern times.

– Department for Transport spokesman

Report: HS2 'defies logic' after cost doubles to £80bn

The report's estimated cost of building HS2 vastly exceeds the Department of Transport's upgraded figure of £43 billion. Credit: Department for Transport

The estimated cost of building the controversial High Speed 2 rail network, which will travel through parts of Buckinghamshire and Northamptonshire has doubled to at least £80 billion, The Sunday Telegraph has reported.

A 58-page independent report by the Institute of Economic Affairs, due out tomorrow, will say that the spiralling cost of construction means HS2 now "defies economic logic" and should be cancelled.

The institute's report also apparently claims the £80 billion cost of HS2 could create "£320 billion of economic value" if it were invested in road, rail or other transport projects instead.

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HS2 aiming for 'minimal disruption' in construction

"All construction access routes" have been considered as part of plans for the HS2 rail route, a project spokesman has told the Mail on Sunday, in response to campaigners' claims of widespread disruption.

He said the public had been consulted on the matter and offered the chance to "express potential concerns or suggest alternatives" and would continue to be involved.

We have sought to provide construction access with minimal disruption and will continue to work with local communities to take on board their views.

In developing the subsequent formal Environmental Statement, we will be considering how we can further reduce any adverse impacts.

– HS2 spokesman

'Half a million' affected by HS2 rail project construction

The HS2 project is attempting to quicken journey times between the UK's major cities. Credit: HS2/PA

The construction of the HS2 rail project will affect the lives of more than half a million people across Middle England, campaigners have said, including those living up to 25 miles from the controversial train route.

They say towns along a 40 mile wide corridor through Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Warwickshire will be affected by the millions of extra lorry journeys during the building process.

The estimations by the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) come from analysis of information it requested from the HS2 project.

Campaigner Ralph Smyth condemned HS2 for its reluctance to hand over the information, saying: "It is not acceptable that it took a charity to uncover this."

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