HS2 services could be halved and run at lower speeds in move to save money, reports say

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The government said it “does not comment on speculation” amid reports it plans to cut the number of trains per hour from 18 to 10

Drastic changes are reportedly being planned for HS2 which could see the number of services halved and train speeds reduced in a bid to cut costs.

The government is said to be planning to cut the number of trains per hour from 18 to 10 and reduce the trains’ maximum speeds, according to a report by the Daily Telegraph.

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HS2 was given the go-ahead from the government in 2012 and was initially designed to run services at up to 400 km/h (248 mph). This was later reduced to an average of 330 km/h (205 mph) and maximum of 360 km/h once contracts to build new trains were awarded.

A budget of £55.7 billion for the whole of HS2 was set in 2015, but the target cost of phase one between London and Birmingham came to £40.3 billion at 2019 prices.

The government has committed to deliver HS2 from London to Manchester and the high-speed rail (Crewe-Manchester) bill is currently working its way through parliament.


‘We remain committed to delivering the project’

The proposals to cut services are reportedly part of an overhaul project codenamed Project Silverlight and Operation Blue Diamond as ministers try to grapple with the huge cost pressures of HS2.

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The Department for Transport (DfT) has said it “does not comment on speculation” after reports surfaced of the government’s supposed HS2 cost-saving plans.

A DfT spokesperson told Sky News: “Spades are already in the ground on the HS2 programme. It will better connect regions across the UK, provide a greener option of travel and is supporting tens of thousands of jobs.

“We remain committed to delivering the project from Euston to Manchester and continue to work in line with the Integrated Rail Plan.”

The prospect of cuts has been criticised by those who are in support of HS2. A spokesperson for the High Speed Rail Group told the Daily Telegraph: “Re-specifying or simply delaying the project will mean in effect loosening proper controls on the project and we desperately need the growth and productivity benefits HS2 will bring in order to fight the cost of living crisis.

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“In future it will always be said that HM Treasury is partially to blame for its lateness and overspend.”

Last month, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt denied speculation that HS2 trains will not run from Old Oak Common in west London to Euston in central London.

It had been reported that the project could instead terminate permanently in the western suburbs of the capital to save money.

Hunt said he did not see “any conceivable circumstances” in which the planned Euston terminus would not go ahead.

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When asked if ministers were committed to HS2 going all the way to Euston, Hunt told BBC News: “Yes we are. And I don’t see any conceivable circumstances in which that would not end up at Euston.”

The Chancellor said he had “prioritised HS2 in the autumn statement”.

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