New concerns over the cost of high-speed rail project HS2 have been identified just six months after its budget was increased.
HS2 Ltd, the Government-owned firm developing the high-speed railway, reported that two components of phase one between Birmingham and London could cost a total of £800 million more than planned.
In a written statement to Parliament, HS2 Minister Andrew Stephenson said half of this figure is due to preparation of the route for construction involving “more significant challenges than anticipated”.
This includes the need to remove more asbestos than expected.
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Another “significant cost pressure” worth £400 million has also been identified during the development of designs for Euston station.
Mr Stephenson warned that further investigation was being carried out which “could identify further pressure”.
The first phase of the project will run between Birmingham and London via Solihull, with four new stations planned at Euston and Old Oak Common in the capital, near Birmingham Airport and in Curzon Street in Birmingham city centre.
A spokesman for the Department for Transport said HS2 Ltd was still expected to deliver phase one at the “target cost” of £40.3 billion.
The “funding envelope” for the first phase is £44.6 billion which includes a contingency of £4.3 billion retained by the Government.
The DfT spokesman added: “As construction continues, this Government remains relentlessly focused on controlling costs, to ensure this ambitious new railway delivers its wealth of benefits at value for money for the taxpayer.”
Boris Johnson decided to proceed with HS2 in February despite fears over its cost, schedule and impact on the environment.
In April, a full business case was approved with an increased budget and revised delivery date.