The Department for Transport (DfT) will reveal new cost and schedule ranges for phase 2a of HS2 in the coming weeks.
An update from the National Audit Office (NAO) on the project’s progress, released today, revealed that the government is close to announcing costs and timings for the Birmingham-to-Crewe leg of the project. It said: “They are yet to set target costs (point estimate plus contingency) and schedule ranges for phases 2a and 2b, but the department told us it is close to concluding work to establish the cost and schedule ranges for phase 2a.”
Its most recent cost information was given as £4bn-£4.5bn based on 2019 prices. The Oakervee Review noted that this may need to be revised upwards due to increased “land and property, systems and indirect costs”, although it noted that as its design “matures”, it may be possible to bring this back down.
Phase 2a was approved by parliament in February. At the time, it was said that its completion would be planned for between 2029 and 2033. Construction was later revealed to be planned to start in the spring of 2024.
The latest NAO report was an update on progress regarding recommendations it made in an assessment of the project last year. It highlighted issues including the fact that the cost of the project's seven main civil contracts had risen from the original target cost set in April 2017 of £6.1bn, to £10.67bn in October 2019. Among its recommendations was for target costs and schedule ranges to be set throughout the project. The audit body said all 14 recommendations had been accepted by the government and HS2, seven of which have been implemented so far.
A DfT spokesperson said: "We are glad the NAO recognises the progress we have made since our comprehensive reset of the HS2 project last year. We remain focused on controlling costs to ensure this ambitious new railway delivers its wealth of benefits at value for money to the British taxpayer."
The final cost and target for the completion date will be set when the scheme’s business case is completed. This is currently scheduled for 2023.
Elsewhere today, Turner & Townsend announced that it has been appointed by HS2 as procurement delivery partner for the project.
The consultancy will provide supply chain and wider commercial support on procurement, including rail systems and phase two.
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