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Transport secretary evaluating alternatives to HS2

By Josh White

Date: Wednesday 22 Jan 2020

Transport secretary evaluating alternatives to HS2

(Sharecast News) - The future of the HS2 high-speed rail project was cast into further doubt on Wednesday, as transport secretary Grant Shapps delayed his decision over its future, and reiterated he was looking at alternative options.
Shapps confirmed that a final decision would be made in February, adding that his concerns were around capacity, rather than speed.

He was quoted by the Guardian as saying it was imperative to explore all the facts around the project before progressing with "maybe the biggest infrastructure project, certainly in Europe, and the biggest this country's ever taken, certainly in peacetime".

The project, which would see a high-speed railway initially constructed between London and Birmingham, and then extended further to other northern cities, was placed under review by prime minister Boris Johnson, who brought in Douglas Oakervee to determine whether it should continue.

That report was ready in December, and is understood to recommend the project goes ahead, albeit with some cost-saving recommendations such as not building the leg between Birmingham and Leeds.

Shapps told Sky News that capacity was the primary issue when he requested more information about various options following the completion of the report.

"What we are going to have to do is whether it's HS2 or other means is increase capacity," he said.

"Now we are actually pulling in the rest of the data to see what are the other alternatives in terms of cost and what capacity it would bring us.

"We will be making that decision in February along with the prime minister and the chancellor."

The HS2 project is currently expected to cost at least £80bn, but many critics have warned it could end up with a final price tag as high as £106bn.

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