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UK Highspeed Rail drags on

Social media has been awash with public criticism following the Infrastructure and Projects Authority’s (IPA) verdict that the UK Government’s HS2 project is “unachievable.”

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With an initial budget of £55.7bn ($70.72bn) set in 2015 – which has since risen to £61bn at 2019 prices ($77.4bn) – HS2 was scheduled to open in 2026 but is now hoped to open between 2029 and 2033.

Wellings is an economist who has long been opposed to the HS2 project.

Environmental damage has been another key issue with the government’s flagship railway project. On 1 August, six environmental activists who occupied the network near Euston station were given suspended sentences for delaying construction with an estimated cost of £3.8m.

Joe Rukin, founder of the Stop HS2 campaign group, described the project as an “unmitigated disaster from start to finish” prior to the IPA’s announcement.

The latest report from IPA – which sits at the heart of government, reporting to the Treasury and Cabinet Office – will encourage Rukin and likeminded people who believe the UK’s largest infrastructure project can and should be stopped.

The London to Birmingham and Birmingham to Crewe phases were given the “red” rating by the IPA, while the Crewe to Manchester phase was given an “amber” rating. This means the northern section of the line is more likely to be completed.

Meanwhile, the HS2 official social media focused on the continuing construction, below highlighting a bridge on the Coventry to Leamington section, which shows project progress.

And there has been some consternation and confusion over a UK Government backing of a loan to support a Highspeed line in Turkey. Some saw it as ‘rubbing salt into already open wounds’ inflicted by ticket office closures and the downsizing of Northern Powerhouse Rail.

But as explained by Railway Technology, the promise only underwrites a private loan (so does not actually spend UK public funds) and obliges the Turkish rail network to buy supplies from UK exporters.