HS2 High-Speed Rail 2026 Target Thrown Into Doubt by NAO Report

By Aatif Sulleyman on at

HS2 is in a fresh spot of bother, with a new report from the National Audit Office (NAO) suggesting that the high-speed rail project isn’t quite on track, thanks to an overly-ambitious schedule and financial pressures.

Phase one of HS2, which will link London and the West Midlands, is due for completion in 2026, but the NAO doesn’t believe HS2 Ltd. will actually hit the deadline. The Department for Transport has also asked the group to assess the potential impact of pushing its original targets back by up to 12 months.

However, HS2 Ltd. is adamant that it will deliver. "The role of the NAO is to challenge projects such as HS2 and through that challenge, improve the way they deliver for the taxpayer," said Simon Kirby, the chief executive of HS2. "This report does this and we accept that challenge. It also, however, recognises the real progress we have made in taking the concept of HS2 and moving it nearer reality."

Unfortunately, timing isn’t the only worry. The NAO added that phase one of HS2 was currently expected to cost £27.4 billion, which exceeds available funding by £204m. The estimated cost of phase two, which will link the West Midlands with Leeds and Manchester, is also over budget, according to the NAO.

Once again, HS2 Ltd. has responded with a cheeky wink and an ‘It’s cool, we got this’. [BBC]