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Brand-new homes will be bulldozed as final HS2 track plans announced

HS2 could cost more than £100bn in total, according some estimates (PA)

Brand-new homes will be demolished to make way for the HS2 high-speed rail line.

Sixteen properties on the Shimmer housing estate in Mexborough, South Yorkshire, will be bulldozed, the Department for Transport (DfT) said as it confirmed the final route of the track.

It comes amid claims Britain’s controversial new high-speed rail line could be the most expensive railway ever built at £403m per mile.

Residents will lose their homes because ministers decided the line should serve the existing Sheffield city centre station after proposals to run trains to Meadowhall shopping centre were shelved.

Labour’s Rotherham MP Sarah Champion said she was “furious” because South Yorkshire “won’t get a proper stop”.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling’s decision on the route from Crewe to Manchester and Birmingham to the East Midlands and Leeds confirms six of the seven changes included in the November consultation.

Some respondents to a Government consultation had argued that the plans should take into account all 216 homes originally planned at the site.

The confirmation by the Secretary of State, Chris Grayling, comes after new calculations suggested the first phase of the line, between London and Birmingham, will cost almost £48bn — nearly double the official figure.

 

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The figures come as the winners of £6.6bn worth of contracts, including troubled construction giant Carillion, were announced by the government.

Michael Byng, who led the research, has been forced to defend his methodology after both HS2 and government said that they did not recognise the figures.

“HS2 has not questioned the figure, or my methodology, nor have they come up with any structured estimate of their own,” Byng told the Sunday Times.

“A couple of days later I got a call from the DfT saying ‘Look, if 6.6 miles is going to cost us £8.25bn, what chance have we got of getting to Birmingham?’ I said: ‘I’ll work it out for you.’

“Michael Hurn, the project sponsor at the DfT, is a very good guy and is very worried at the advice he’s been given [by HS2]. The big contractors are also worried. They’ve said when they submit a bid it’s nowhere near [as low as] the estimates that HS2 have got for the job.”

The route (PA)

HS2 said it “did not recognise” Mr Byng’s figure and was “confident we will deliver the project on time and on budget”.

Mr Grayling, the transport secretary, has called the the figures “absolute nonsense”.

“Michael Byng has nothing to do with the project. We’ve not been able to get any explanation as to how he’s come up with his numbered.

“The budget for HS2 for the whole project, including the northern leg which i’m going to announce this afternoon is £55.7 billion,” he said.

Byng, who also created the method used by Network Rail to cost its projects, said he was surprised by Grayling’s comment, noting that he had shared his calculations under oath.

“I gave evidence on the cost of the first section of the route between London Euston and Old Oak Common, under oath, to the House of Lords Select Committee on 11 October 2016; neither the methodology I used to prepare my estimate of £8,248 billion for this section nor its detailed calculation was challenged by HS2 Limited, nor was any alternative evidence offered to the hearing, notwithstanding the fact that I had shared my workings with DfT and HS2 Limited, prior to appearing.”

The first phase will connect London and Birmingham (PA)

Some estimates, which have extrapolated Byng’s figures, put the total for all phases at £104 billion, which would make it the most expensive railway line ever built.

Former transport minister John Spellar said the project was an “ever-deepening bottomless pit”.

Penny Gaines, the chair of campaign group Stop HS2 called the budget for the project “more fantasy than reality.”

“Up until now the government has been getting away with it, because the bulk of the spending will come later.  But as construction comes nearer, the real cost of HS2 will have to be paid.  It’s time to cancel HS2 and use the money that will be saved on things that will benefit more people rather than a few fat cats.

“While it has been presented to help transport in the north, HS2 is mainly about making it easier to get to London, as there are no east-west links involved. It will make no difference to journeys from Leeds to Manchester or Sheffield to Manchester. And with no links to HS1 in the plans, it will not help with journeys from the north to continental Europe.”