It's time to roll out the template for a news story about something the UK is doing taking vastly longer/costing vastly more than planned, as the report into the future of HS2 has been leaked, and you'll never guess what it says.
Oh you guessed. It's going to cost loads more. But did you guess that the cost would increase from 2015's £56bn to around £88bn in today's new English pounds, and that according to the leaked report seen by The Times, this £88bn figure is only a placeholder that's expected to increase as the years pass and everything grows inexorably more expensive? £88bn is sort of a guess, as we haven't done anything like this in modern times and no one has a calculator with a screen wide enough to handle these sorts of sums. If it goes over £100bn we'll have to invent a new computer for the adding.
The good news for supporters of the high-speed line is that this leaked version of the report says the project should definitely go ahead – in full Y-shaped Birmingham... and Beyond! format too – regardless of its impact on the national finances, as the benefit to the north of the county and the midlands is still expected to outweigh the benefit expected to be felt in London; and the slight rebalancing tilt the line will deliver to the south-east-heavy nation is worth the cost.
HS2 remains the best way of increasing capacity too, the report will say, and the only alternative to keep existing lines from being overwhelmed is massively increasing ticket prices on current lines to discourage the people of the near future travelling so much in the first place. [The Times via Liverpool Echo]