HS2 Costs Spiral: Land Acquisitions FIVE TIMES Higher Than Expected - Exclusive

7 February 2019, 07:41 | Updated: 7 February 2019, 07:58

Figures exclusively seen by LBC show the cost for acquiring land and property for phase one of HS2 could be almost FIVE TIMES higher than originally expected.

Forecasts based upon a freedom of information request suggest that the total cost of acquisitions could now cost approximately £5 billion.

In 2012, HS2 Limited estimated that land and property acquisitions would cost just £1.1bn. By 2015, the National Audit Office said that figure had spiralled to £3.3bn. LBC understands this figure could now reach £4.96bn.

This is based on a Freedom of Information request, carried out by the Bramley Action Group, an anti-HS2 campaign group.

Other details shows that there has only been 47% of total payments made - just 745 of the 1564 payments - indicating that the process of acquiring what’s needed is demonstrating to be much harder than expected.

Euston Station after HS2 has been built
Euston Station after HS2 has been built. Picture: PA

Michael Byng, an infrastructure consultant who created the method used by Network Rail to cost its projects, told LBC that he knows HS2 only budgeted around £2.2bn for this cost - less than half of what is needed.

Speaking to Nick Ferrari, he said: "I'm not surprised by this. The independent assessment I did for the costs of HS2 phase one suggested the cost of property was going to be at least £5bn, based on the work I did at Euston and along the phase one project."

Asked if he believes HS2 could come in on budget, he said: "On either the property budget or the total budget of £27.18bn, it's extremely unlikely. It never was likely to come into that budget, simply through the plans that HS2 posted on the DfT website.

"The disparity between the likely costs, which I believe is just under £56bn for phase one alone and the government's funding envelope of £27.18bn is far too great.

"If you wanted to take 5-10% off it by economies, value engineering, reducing scope, you could do it, but by halving the cost, it's very difficult to see how you could maintain the same scheme."

HS2 said in a statement: "The cost of the land acquisition programme reflects changes to scope, land value and parliamentary amendments that took place during the passage of the HS2 Bill in 2016.

"The report shows we now have a reasonable estimate of costs that we are delivering within our budget. We are confident we will be able to keep doing that."