Rise in HS2 costs 'a myth', Transport Secretary claims during Kenilworth visit

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling MP (left) believes HS2 will be delivered within budget. He visited Kenilworth Station at its official opening on Friday. Also pictured: Kenilworth mayor Cllr Mike Hitchins, Warwickshire County Council chairman Cllr John Cooke, and Kenilworth and Southam MP Jeremy Wright
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling MP (left) believes HS2 will be delivered within budget. He visited Kenilworth Station at its official opening on Friday. Also pictured: Kenilworth mayor Cllr Mike Hitchins, Warwickshire County Council chairman Cllr John Cooke, and Kenilworth and Southam MP Jeremy Wright

Reports suggesting HS2’s costs could balloon by several billions of pounds have been dismissed as ‘myths’ by the Transport Secretary Chris Grayling MP during a visit to Kenilworth.

Mr Grayling was visiting the town’s railway station on Friday July 20 to officially open it by unveiling a plaque outside the entrance.

And when asked about reports suggesting HS2 could end up costing £100 billion, Mr Grayling was confident it would not go over its current budget.

He said: “There’s a lot of myths around - stories that have been put around by people not involved in the project who think they know what it’s going to cost.

“There have been some wild estimates about the cost of HS2. I have seen nothing to suggest it is not on track to be delivered within its budget.”

One report sent to MPs and peers, written jointly by Labour peer Lord Berkeley and civil engineer Michael Byng, suggests costs have risen considerably due to HS2 not planning and costing effectively.

In a joint statement by Lord Berkeley and Mr Byng, the pair said: “Maybe the time has come to abandon this absurd pipe-dream and spend a fraction of the money on smaller upgrades to the existing rail network which will achieve what passengers and freight customers want, without the massive disruption to peoples’ lives along the HS2 route.”

But Mr Grayling said that although the line’s construction would affect many people, he claimed it would provide opportunities for many.

He added: “The point about HS2 is I know it’s difficult for residents affected. I wish it was possible to build something significant without having an impact on anyone, but it’s just not.

“If you are young aspiring engineer living in Kenilworth, Coventry or Leamington, or if you’re a small business that provides equipment to the rail industry, it’s going to create opportunities.”

But many people in and around Kenilworth are still frustrated with the line and HS2 Ltd’s perceived lack of communication.

Diggers and other machinery appearing at the Crackley Gap to the north of Kenilworth in May to start ‘enabling works’ led to several complaints from nearby residents.

They claimed they had no knowledge of when the work was going to happen because HS2 had not given them any notice.

When this was put to Mr Grayling, he said: “My message to local residents is if there are things going wrong, talk to your local MP.

“We work with local MPs up the route to try and make sure that if there are problems they’re dealt with.”