High Speed 2 is a partially planned high-speed railway in the UK. The first phase of the project connects London to the West Midlands, and the second phase links the West Midlands to Leeds and Manchester. But how much is the ambitious HS2 project costing the UK?
The government is expected to deliver final approval for the HS2 project.
The decision will allow progress on Britain’s largest infrastructure project, which has been delayed and faced mounting concerns over the route and ballooning costs.
The first phase of the railway line from London to Birmingham will see journey times drop from one hour 21 minutes to just 52 minutes.
The second phase would see the journey from Manchester to London take one hour seven minutes from two hours seven minutes, and Birmingham to Leeds drop from two hours to just 49 minutes.
While the whole line will be built, the government is expected to review the sections of the route that cover the north of England.
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HS2 cost: How much will HS2 cost to complete?
HS2 cost: HS2 is planned to link London to Birmingham to Manchester and Leeds
What is the HS2 route?
Originally, the planned HS2 route was from London to the West Midlands carrying 400m-long (1,300ft) trains with as many as 1,100 seats per train.
The line would enable trains to reach speeds of up to 250mph and would run as often as 14 times per hour in each direction.
The Department for Transport has said that the project will triple the capacity of trains across the entire route.
The second phase of the project between Manchester and Leeds will reportedly be reviewed to ensure the plans are cost-effective.
If this part of the project goes ahead, a new HS2 station would be built next to Manchester Piccadilly.
HS2 cost: The HS2 project has seen a lot of backlash in recent years
Why is the HS2 project facing backlash?
There is a lot of opposition to the HS2 project mainly because it is funded by UK taxpayers and the initiative is over-budget and behind schedule.
Some recently-elected Conservative MPs, representing seats in the north and the Midlands, are also reportedly against the project on the grounds and have argued the money would be better spent improving local transport links.
Pressure group Stop HS2 believes that the operation of the line will cause increasing carbon emissions, as well as damage to areas of natural beauty and the ecosystems they support.
HS2 Action Alliance has previously argued that it believes a disproportionate number of the 30,000 jobs created around HS2 stations in phase one will be in London.
In total, HS2 will pass through 70 parliamentary constituencies.
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How much has HS2 cost?
In the 2015 Budget, the cost of HS2 was officially outlined as just under £56 billion.
However, this government estimate has been effectively doubled in reality and the latest figure which has been bandied around is £106bn according to an official review leaked to the Financial Times in January.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has long criticised the HS2 project which would run through his constituency, but he is also an advocate for large infrastructure projects and has made boosting growth in newly won constituencies in the north of England and midlands a driver of economic policy.
Last year during the Tory leadership race Mr Johnson said: “I worry about cancelling a big national project of that scale without anything else to replace it.”
Speaking to Sky Kids’ FYI show, the PM said HS2 Ltd had “just wasted money. And the whole way it was managed was hopeless.”
HS2 cost: In total HS2 is due to cost around £106 billion
Why is HS2 over budget?
The cost of HS2 has essentially spiralled and it is down to management issues and unrealistic land valuations.
The project is due to cut through a crowded landscape from London Euston to west London through a giant tunnel beneath London.
To build the line, HS2 Ltd has to compulsorily purchase land and property rights along the route, which in London can prove to be very expensive.
A 2019 freedom of information request revealed that property costs are forecast to reach £5bn, compared to the original £1.1bn estimate.
Additionally, HS2 also failed to carry out extensive soil surveys, which has caused problems for digging and excavation, according to the project’s current chairman, Allan Cook.
When will HS2 open?
The first phases of the railway project, from London to Birmingham, was originally due to open in 2026.
But given the delays to the project, it is now expected to be completed between 2028 and 2031.
The second phase of the infrastructure initiative to Manchester in Leeds was due to open in 2032 to 2033, but now has been pushed back to 2035 to 2040.