Government ministers are ‘keen to kill off’ HS2 as costs threaten to spiral out of control, it was claimed today.
More than £4.1billion has been spent on the high-speed rail project since its conception a decade ago.
But senior government sources have now said they are ‘actively considering’ scrapping the scheme amid fears the bill could hit £6billion a year – roughly equivalent to the total for the rest of the rail network put together.
The behind-the-scene manoeuvring comes after years of battle over whether to push ahead with the project.
Theresa May and Transport Secretary Chris Grayling have publicly stressed their commitment to the ambitious £56billion plans, which would directly connect London, Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester.
However, last month Treasury minister Liz Truss raised eyebrows when she said the government must be prepared to ‘junk white elephant’ projects rather than allowing ‘mission creep’.
Under the current plans, phase one of the high-speed rail link will open between London and Birmingham in December 2026 before the railway is extended to Crewe, Manchester and Leeds by 2033
State-of-the-art rail stations will be built as part of the HS2 project. Pictured is a design for Old Oak Common in north London
The latest signs of a rethink came in a Dispatches investigation called HS2: The Great Train Robbery, which is due to air tomorrow night on Channel 4 at 8pm.
A senior Government source told the programme: ‘The costs are spiralling so much we’ve been actively considering other scenarios, including scrapping the entire project.’
Ministers reportedly believe the annual costs, previously estimated at £4.2billion a year over the next decade, could end up being £6billion.
A Department for Transport spokesman said: ‘HS2 is underway with 7,000 people and 2,000 businesses working on building what will become the backbone of Britain’s rail network.’
Under the current plans, phase one of the high-speed rail link will open between London and Birmingham in December 2026 before the railway is extended to Crewe, Manchester and Leeds by 2033.
HS2 trains are designed to operate at up to 225mph and also serve locations on the existing mainline network, such as Liverpool, Newcastle, Edinburgh and Glasgow.
Theresa May and Transport Secretary Chris Grayling (pictured) have publicly stressed their commitment to the ambitious £56billion plans