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Costs and HS2 Plus

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In November 2013 the government announced that new HS2 Ltd chairman Sir David Higgins had been tasked with reporting on how to reduce the “£42.6 billion cost of the scheme”.

'Sir David Higgins to drive down the cost of HS2', Nov 2013

‘Sir David Higgins to drive down the cost of HS2’, Nov 2013

But when Mr Higgins spoke in Manchester on 17 March 2014 at the launch of his HS2 Plus project review, it was apparent that he had sidestepped the issue of cost reduction in favour of ‘deliverability’. In the launch speech, he said, “We have tested assumptions, and indeed ended up with a bigger contingency figure than we started with and adjusted some items here and there, but we have reached the firm conclusion that the budget is enough to deliver Phase One in total. Phase two being too early in its development to properly assess”.

[Extract from HS2 Plus report, David Higgins]

My team and I have undertaken an exhaustive review of the costs outlined in the first phase of the project. Overall, I am satisfied that the £21.4 billion (including contingency) allocated to the Phase One infrastructure project, plus the £3 billion (including contingency) allocated for Phase One trains, is enough to deliver Phase One.

One of the HS2 Plus supporting slides did give a very limited breakdown of estimated phase one costs.

HS2 phase one costs review, David Higgins, March 2014 (supporting slide)

HS2 phase one costs review, David Higgins, March 2014 (supporting slide)

And another slide suggested that a 15% difference in real costs between HS1 and HS2 was reasonable, given the ‘increased capability’ of the latter.

'HS2 Plus' benchmarking phase 1 costs, March 2014

‘HS2 Plus’ benchmarking phase 1 costs, March 2014

However, HS2 Ltd has previously claimed that ‘a high speed line’ is only about 10% more expensive to build than a conventional one. Presumably, “conventional” would mean infrastructure with a linespeed of 200 km/h, rather than the 300 km/h of HS1 phase one in Kent. How, then, is it possible to reconcile the two claims? At the moment, HS2 Ltd seem unwilling to attempt any explanation. They claim they hold no information on HS2 Plus, and were not involved in its preparation.

HS2 Ltd say they do not hold information on the David Higgins HS2 Plus report (May 2014)

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Written by beleben

May 6, 2014 at 7:32 pm

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

One Response

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  1. […] 2014 David Higgins HS2 Plus report stated that the government’s ~225 km HS2 phase one proposal was costed at £19.4 billion (P50 […]


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