Government spent £1.25bn on cancelled HS2 leg

The Department for Transport (DfT) has spent more than £1.25bn on services relating to the cancelled second phase of HS2, according to newly analysed invoices.

The largest beneficiary was Arup, which received £272.8m from March 2016 onwards for land referencing, design services and environmental services.

Invoices paid by the project’s contracting authority HS2 Limited were analysed by public sector consultancy Tussell. Prime minister Rishi Sunak confirmed that the high-speed rail line would not proceed above Birmingham at the Conservative Party Conference last Wednesday (4 October).

Other contractors that received large sums for work on the scrapped rail project include Balfour Beatty (£192m) Bechtel (£78m) and Kier (£43m). A joint venture between Mace and Ward Williams was paid £243m. Aecom, which was the project’s ground-investigation partner, received £95.1m.

The DfT also paid £1.2m to a joint venture between Balfour Beatty Civil Engineering and Carillion, which went under in January 2018. The money was paid in August 2018 for engineering services on Phase 2a from Birmingham to Crewe, which was paused for two years in March 2023 before being scrapped altogether last week.

Around one-sixth of the total (£219m) was spent on assets under construction on Phase 2a, Tussell found.

The latest invoice was paid in May this year to Network Rail for design services and early contractor involvement works related to the Crewe leg.

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