HS2 and the funding envelope
Former British Rail operations manager Lord Bradshaw described the official HS2 cost estimates as “flimsy” in a 24 January House of Lords debate that was largely concerned with the pros and cons of terminating the line, temporarily or otherwise, at Old Oak Common.
In the debate, Lord Berkeley said that ‘Michael Bing, a quantity surveyor who has written the textbook of costings for Network Rail’, had estimated the cost of HS2 phase one (London – West Midlands) at about £54 billion. (The government ‘funding envelope’ for the entire project (phase one and phase two) is £55.7 billion at 2015 prices.)
On 5 June 2013, Railnews reported a proposal “to give millions of people in central England direct access to HS2” by re-activating the Stonebridge railway was backed by “Railnews editorial director Alan Marshall and specialist quantity surveyor Michael Byng”. Whether the ‘Stonebridge Michael Byng’ and the ‘£54 billion phase one Michael Bing’, are one and the same person, is not clear.
What is clear, is the continuing unlikelihood of HS2 being opened on time, or within the funding envelope.