HS2 spends £400 million on uprooting families ‘for no reason’ after 424 properties were bought on the Birmingham to Manchester leg of the project now set to be scrapped
- In addition to 530 properties bought along eastern HS2 route scrapped in 2021
The fiasco over HS2’s future deepened yesterday as it emerged hundreds of families have been uprooted from their homes for no reason.
Some 424 properties along or near the planned route between Birmingham and Manchester have been bought by HS2 Ltd, the company delivering the high-speed rail project, official figures show.
Including land, a total of £424million was spent on them. Some were due to be demolished.
But the Prime Minister is now poised to scrap the Birmingham to Manchester leg of the project, meaning that families and businesses along the route who sold up have potentially moved for no reason.
It is in addition to 530 properties bought along the route of HS2’s planned eastern leg, which was due to connect Birmingham with Leeds but was scrapped in 2021.
Some 424 properties along or near the planned route between Birmingham and Manchester have been bought by HS2 Ltd, the company delivering the high-speed rail project, official figures show
Along with land, these were bought for £163million. Overall, around nine in ten of the 954 properties are homes and the rest are businesses.
HS2, which has been dogged by spiralling costs and delays, may also be curtailed so that it no longer runs into the heart of the capital.
Passengers would have to alight at the west London station and connect to the Elizabeth Line to take them to the centre of the capital.
This could save £4.8billion, while axing the Birmingham to Manchester leg could save up to £34billion.
Government sources stressed, however, that no final decisions have been made.
One option being looked at by ministers is to use the savings to build more high-speed rail in the North running from East to West.
At present, the Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) route stops short of Leeds and Liverpool.
It came as a row broke out in the Commons over HS2’s future, with Labour and the Conservatives trading insults. Buses minister Richard Holden was hauled before Parliament to answer an urgent question on the issue.
He repeatedly refused to guarantee HS2 would run all the way up to Manchester or into central London.
Labour MPs accused the Government of ‘abandoning’ the North, with shadow transport secretary Louise Haigh branding it a ‘great rail betrayal’.
Trains had originally been due to arrive into London Euston. But Rishi Sunak (pictured) is understood to be looking at ending the line early – trains would instead stop six miles away at Old Oak Common
But Mr Holden hit back, accusing Labour of making unfunded spending commitments after promising to deliver HS2 in full in a blueprint for the party’s next manifesto released on Friday.
Iain Stewart, Tory chairman of the transport committee, said: ‘Whether you oppose or support HS2 in principle, starting at Old Oak Common and finishing at Birmingham would not realise the full benefits of the line… either do it properly or don’t do it all.’
A budget of £55.7billion for the whole of HS2 was set in 2015. But the target cost has ballooned to up to £71billion, excluding the eastern leg axed in 2021. This was cancelled amid fears the final cost would soar well above £100billion.
Tory MP Greg Smith said last night: ‘It’s disgraceful that people have been made to feel that they have to move out… before a project is 100 per cent signed off.’
The Department for Transport said: ‘We recognise the impact HS2 has had on residents. That’s why our compensation schemes go far beyond what the law requires.’