THE COST of a ‘vanity project’ which will see a high speed rail line cut through the Warwickshire countryside is set to double, it is claimed – prompting calls for it to be scrapped.
Rail expert Michael Byng was commissioned by the Department for Transport to estimate the cost of HS2, a figure which they previously said was around £55billion.
But Mr Byng said he believed phase one of the line between Birmingham and London would come in at double that number and instead be around £111billion.
Now campaigners are calling for the plans to be scrapped, as the line for phase two to Manchester and Leeds was unveiled.
The line will cut through countryside between Coventry and Kenilworth, and Burton Green on the city’s outskirts before ploughing on to a new interchange station near the NEC.
Stop HS2 campaign manager Joe Rukin said: “With it being so obvious to everyone who lives in the real world that there are so many far more important priorities for public spending, it seems utterly insane that government are still wedded to this vainglorious vanity project and all its false promises.
“Since the start, the case for HS2 has been invented by the very cheerleaders who intend to rake in billions of taxpayers’ money, which is why the cost of HS2 has already doubled. With reports saying the total cost may double again or even quadruple in the future, it really is time to ditch this gigantic white elephant, before it is too late.”
The contracts for the line were awarded this week, with different companies focusing on different parts of the track.
Phase two will extend the line from Birmingham, cutting through north Warwickshire, including and two country parks.
Warwickshire County Council say it hopes the proposals will be altered to ensure the parks and roads were not affected.
But transport secretary Chris Graying believes the railway will improve everyday life for residents by the time it opens in 2026.
He told the Observer: “Britain’s new railway line will bring huge economic benefits across the country and help ensure this government delivers on its promise to spread wealth beyond London and the south-east.
“But as well as creating skilled jobs, apprenticeships and business opportunities, it will also mean real day-to-day improvements for people across the country.
“By building a whole new railway line for high-speed intercity connections, we will free up local services, meaning more comfort, more seats and more trains for passengers across the north and the midlands.
“We will now press ahead with building the line, while continuing to ensure affected communities get appropriate support and are treated with fairness, compassion and respect.”
Work has already began on HS2 in south Warwickshire, with a number of applications submitted to deal with the ecological impacts of the line.
The first trains are set to run in 2026.