HS2 to go-ahead despite rising costs, says leaked report

A report leaked to The Times newspaper claims that the official review into the future of HS2 will recommend the project be completed in full.

It suggests the high-speed rail line linking London to the North of England via the Midlands will go-ahead despite spiraling costs.

It had previously been speculated that the review by former HS2 Chair Doug Oakervee would call for the route connecting the West and East Midlands and on up to Leeds to be scrapped.

The current proposed route of HS2 Credit: HS2 Ltd / Department for Transport

Preparation work has already begun and costs have ballooned from the £56 billion budget set in 2015, to a more recent estimate of £88 billion.

The leaked report is unwelcome news for some. Joe Rukin, from the Stop HS2 campaign, still hopes the full published report will come down against the scheme.

Joe Rukin, from the Stop HS2 campaign group

HS2 has been steeped in controversy for well over a decade. Supporters have welcomed the news, saying it will bring huge benefits to the Midlands.

West Midlands Mayor, Andy Street

The first phase of HS2, from London to Birmingham, was initially scheduled to be completed by 2026. This has now been revised to as late as 2031.

Phase 2b, linking Birmingham to Leeds and Manchester could take as long as 2040 to complete, seven years later than the previous delivery date.

The government has yet to announce a formal decision on the future of HS2.

Watch ITV Central's special programme on HS2 below: