UK & World News
HS2 Rail Project Cost To 'Double To £80bn'
The cost of the new High Speed 2 rail network will be £80bn, double the current estimate, according to a new report.
The Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) says the plan "defies economic logic" and is calling for the project to be cancelled.
The Department for Transport's official estimate currently stands at £43bn† - a rise from its original figure of £33bn.
The think tank argues that the £80bn price tag could deliver £320bn of value if spent on road and other rail and transport projects.
Work on the first leg between London and Birmingham is due to begin in 2017.
The report's author Dr Richard Welling said: "It's time the Government abandoned its plans to proceed with HS2.
"The evidence is now overwhelming that this will be unbelievably costly to the taxpayer while delivering incredibly poor value for money."
A spokesman for the DfT said: "HS2 is absolutely vital for this country, providing a huge economic boost which will generate a return on investment that will continue paying back for generations to come.
"Without it the key rail routes connecting London, the Midlands and the North will be overwhelmed. HS2 will provide the capacity needed in a way that will generate hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions of pounds worth of economic benefits.
"The Government is committed to managing the cost within the budget we have set for the project and to securing maximum value for money for the taxpayer, while also ensuring that preparations are properly made for the most significant infrastructure investment the UK has seen in modern times."
The IEA's 58-page report on the cost will be published on Monday.
Meanwhile campaigners are claiming that more than half a million people across Middle England will have their lives affected by the construction of the project.
The Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) is warning that life in towns and villages up to 25 miles from the rail route will be disrupted by the movement of construction vehicles while the line is being built.
The organisation is publishing its analysis of the impact of the project, in the form of a series of maps, based on information it has obtained from HS2.
According to advance details released to The Mail on Sunday, towns along a 40-mile wide corridor - such as Thame in Oxfordshire, Princes Risborough and Beaconsfield in Buckinghamshire, and Leamington Spa in Warwickshire - will be affected by the millions of extra lorry journeys.
When it is built, some of the country's most tranquil areas will be blighted by train noise of up to 95 decibels near the track - the equivalent of a Tube train - from up to 16 trains an hour travelling at 225mph, the paper said.