THE company building the HS2 rail line has admitted it faces a seven-year delay — because it did not realise there were so many people in Britain.
HS2 Ltd chairman Allan Cook blamed the country’s “greater density of population”, difficult ground conditions and high environmental standards for the hold-up.
It means completion of the second phase of the network, the extension to Leeds and Manchester, may not open until 2040. Its original completion date was 2033.
The first phase between London and Birmingham could be delayed by up to five years, with a new target date of between 2028 and 2031.
It was also confirmed the budget would spiral by up to £26billion.
In a report, Mr Cook blamed the delay and spiralling costs on a “variety of factors”.
He said they included “the extra demands we are making on the railway to maximise its strategic impact, the more rigorous environmental standards we apply in this country and aim to exceed with
HS2, the greater density of population in Britain and more challenging ground conditions than we expected”.
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British business leaders urged the Government to plough ahead with HS2 regardless of setbacks.
The Confederation of British Industry’s Tom Thackray said despite the disappointments, HS2 “promises to bring huge economic benefits across the country.”
He added: “The message from business on the project remains consistent — build it, back it, benefit from it.”
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