HS2 runs up £250 million bill in just three years – but could judicial review due on Friday derail the plans?

Cheryl Gillan MP
Cheryl Gillan MP

More than a quarter of a billion pounds has already been spent on HS2, before a single piece of track has even been laid.

A total of £253 million has been spent since the project was announced three years ago, according to figures obtained by Chilterns MP Cheryl Gillan.

The former Tory cabinet member also discovered that 66 civil servants are currently working on HS2, either within the government or having been seconded to HS2 Ltd, with a wage and overheads bill of £367,000 a month.

Mrs Gillan said she was ‘shocked’ by the figures.

“At a time when we are all being asked to tighten our belts it is questionable that so much money is being ploughed into a project when its benefits have not yet been proven.

“However, it is important to remember that, at a current estimated cost of £34 billion, the taxpayer has barely begun paying the bill for this project.

“If, instead, we were upgrading existing rail lines the cost would be a fraction of HS2 and the money spent so far on this project would have gone a considerable way to meeting that cost.

“Instead, although an enormous sum to date, as far as HS2 is concerned a quarter of a billion is a drop in the ocean.”

The parliamentary written answers from minister of state Simon Burns also revealed that the DfT and HS2 Ltd’s combined project budget for the 2012-13 financial year was a maximum of £224 million, with expected expenditure to be £214m.

Meanwhile, the results of the judicial reviews into the legality of the Government’s plans for HS2 are expected to be handed down at the Royal Courts of Justice on Friday.

A verdict is expected on five cases submitted in December, covering issues such as consultation on the plans, environmental impact and the impact on communities.

Campaigners against HS2 say that if the Government were to lose the judicial reviews and not appeal, the project might be set back by several years.

Joe Rukin, Stop HS2 campaign manager, said: “Coalition leaders have shined a spotlight on HS2 and walked into it, wanting to be associated with the project, but come Friday they could find that they have linked themselves to an illegal project which everyone will see is being based on nothing more than sentiment and spin.”