A proposed design for an HS2 train
A cabinet minister has told the BBC it is his gut feeling that the HS2 high-speed rail line will get the go-ahead.
Stephen Barclay told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show that the project was vital for “levelling up” the UK’s transport network and improving capacity.
The Brexit secretary’s comments come amid a row over the rising cost of the project, which could reach £106bn.
The high-speed link is due to open between London and Birmingham at the end of 2026.
A second phase, continuing the line to Leeds and Manchester, is set to be completed by 2032-33.
Mr Barclay was asked by Andrew Marr for his “gut feeling” about whether the HS2 would be approved. “Yes”, he replied firmly.
He said the government had given a “clear commitment to level up all parts of the United Kingdom… HS2 plays an important part in that”.
That levelling up was not just about improving the speed of transport, but also improving capacity in the UK.
Mr Barclay stressed, though, that it was “important that we also get value for money”.
HS2 risks misjudged from the start, says watchdogHS2 costs out of control, says review deputy chair
Earlier this month, a leaked government-commissioned review suggested the total cost of HS2 could reach £106bn.
The findings of the independent review, conducted by former HS2 Ltd chair Doug Oakervee, have not yet been officially published. The Department for Transport has indicated it will be published soon.
The Sunday Telegraph reported that former senior figures involved in HS2 have given signed statements to the prime minister’s advisers, alleging the government-owned firm behind HS2 covered up spiralling costs on multiple occasions.