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New fears over where HS2 is going

  • Video report by ITV News Consumer Editor Chris Choi

The UK is building a railway which is heading to fantasy land. The taxpayer is funding this journey, which has already cost more than £7 billion.

Today’s report from public spending watchdogs shows politicians, transport officials and contractors don’t truly know where they are headed - or when they will arrive.

Essentially, The National Audit Office says managers underestimated the task and came up with plans that seem only to work in the fantasy land of boardroom spreadsheets.

Their miscalculations have led to overly optimistic budgets and unrealistic opening dates. Their numbers simply are not adding up, with potential overspends up to 87% on some of the work.

An aerial view of the Chiltern Hills near Great Missenden in Buckinghamshire where the HS2 route will pass through. Credit: PA

HS2 is not affordable under currently available funding. Those running this giant scheme now have a track record in dreaming up cost saving “efficiencies” that don’t materialise. Nobody has come close to giving a definitive answer to the most pressing question of all - how much will this cost?

This damming verdict on the journey so far need not kill off HS2. It still has a dazzling potential to change Britain for the better. With faster and more frequent trains than any other scheme in Europe, it promises to truly change lives.

Only a venture on this huge scale could hope to rebalance North and South.

It remains an alluring dream for many, but today’s report is a shrill warning that somebody needs to get a grip.