Higgins told to bring down cost of HS2

The new chairman of HS2, Sir David Higgins, has been told he will need to report to the government in March with ideas on how to cut the cost of the £42.6 billion project.

Outgoing Network Rail boss Higgins will need to reassure MPs about the economic benefits of the line prior to the second reading of the Hybrid Bill next year.

Following similar comments by Prime Minister David Cameron, Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “Sir David Higgins, currently chief executive of Network Rail, was appointed as the new chairman of HS2 Ltd because of his world class record on infrastructure delivery. As chief executive of the Olympic Delivery Authority he ensured the UK Olympic Park was built on time and on budget.

“That is why I have commissioned Sir David in his new role to report to me by March on how the HS2 project can be brought in under budget and how it can best maximise the benefits for all parts of the country‎.

“The new north-south line is essential to free up capacity on the existing rail network and bring economic growth to the whole of the country, but I want to ensure that we get these benefits at the best price not any price.”

HS2 has faced fresh criticism in recent weeks following the publication a series of conflicting reports into the predicted benefits of the high-speed line.

In last month’s edition of The Rail Engineer Tim Smart, Head of Engineering and Operations, HS2 Ltd, hit back at some of the claims by anti-HS2 campaigners.