Infrastructure bounced back sensationally in September with six major HS2 contracts awarded on the month worth a total of £7.2 billion. However, the same can’t be said for the remaining sectors in construction, including housing which saw new orders decrease for the first time in six months.

The latest edition of the Economic & Construction Market Review from industry analysts Barbour ABI, highlights the levels of construction contract values awarded in September across all regions of Great Britain. The overall contract value for September was £6.9 billion based on a three month rolling average, the highest monthly figure for almost two years. The strong total was largely based on the commissioning of the large HS2 contracts, which made up six of the top ten biggest projects in the month, whilst also masking the pitfalls across other sectors of construction.


Across the industry, project numbers were down in September by 28.5% when compared to August, which was spread right across the various sectors of construction. Housing saw the biggest drop in contract values, decreasing to £1.8 billion, a 33 per cent drop on the month after consistently high growth since May and has up to now been construction’s most reliable source of high contract values over the course of 2017. Outside of Infrastructure, the only two other sectors that saw growth were Hotel, Leisure and Sport with minimal growth of 0.9% compared to August, and Medical & Health which increased by 10.4%.

Outside of the six HS2 projects, the £300 million Old War Office Building residential development in Westminster was the highest value project for September. This is followed by a new Amazon distribution centre in Bristol with a construction cost of more than £200 million – four times higher than the value of any other industrial project on the month.

Regionally, the West Midlands was the leading region for construction contract value with 35 per cent of the total, followed by London and the East Midlands with 28 and 15 per cent respectively, the three regions with HS2 contracts. The remaining regions counted for 1-4 per cent individual share of the monthly total contract value.

Commenting on the figures, Michael Dall, Lead Economist at Barbour ABI, said “It was an unusual month for construction in September due to the £7.2 billion HS2 contracts, drastically boosting construction figures and depicting a strong, healthy industry, whereas without the six major contracts it was a poor month for contract values, highlighted by the housing sectors uncharacteristic decrease.”

“Nevertheless the HS2 projects will be a major boost to the workforces in the three located regions, providing thousands of jobs and sub-contracting opportunities.”

HS2 has taken a major step forward, with the formal signing of contracts to deliver the tunnels, bridges and earthworks that will carry the first phase of the UK’s new high speed railway from London to Birmingham in 2026.

High Speed Two (HS2) Ltd Chief Executive, Mark Thurston, was joined by representatives from SCS JV, Align JV, CEK JV and Balfour Beatty VINCI, in a signing ceremony at the company’s Birmingham head office. The winning companies, whose names were released by the Department for Transport last month (17 July 2017), will go on to support 16,000 jobs across the UK-wide supply chain as they deliver what will be the biggest investment in UK’s transport infrastructure since the building of the motorways.

High Speed Two (HS2) Ltd Chief Executive, Mark Thurston, was joined by representatives from SCS JV, Align JV, CEK JV and Balfour Beatty VINCI, in a signing ceremony at the company’s Birmingham head office. The winning companies, whose names were released by the Department for Transport last month (17 July 2017), will go on to support 16,000 jobs across the UK-wide supply chain as they deliver what will be the biggest investment in UK’s transport infrastructure since the building of the motorways.

Welcoming the milestone for the project, HS2 Chief Executive Mark Thurston said “HS2 is more than just a railway. The contracts will provide much needed extra capacity and connectivity between our major cities, but it will also unlock huge opportunities for new jobs, homes and economic development and start to rebalance our economy.

“We are determined to deliver the project to new levels of safety and efficiency, with respect for communities, protection for the environment and value for money at the core of everything we do. The contracts we signed today will support 16,000 jobs and generate thousands of contract opportunities within the wider supply chain, spreading the benefits of this investment across the whole country.”

A team made up of Skanska, Costain and STRABAG (SCS JV) will build the first section of the route which is in a tunnel between Euston and Old Oak Common and onwards to Northolt. Welcoming the contract award, Peter Jones, Executive Director and SCS JV board member said “We are delighted to have been awarded these major contracts by HS2 which follow on from the South Enabling Works Contract awarded last year.

The awards are further testimony to the SCS collaborative approach and our strong track record in applying technology-based innovative solutions in the delivery of large-scale projects.

Align JV, a team made up of Bouygues, VolkerFitzpatrick and Sir Robert McAlpine will build the next stage, including the Colne Valley Viaduct and Chilterns Tunnel. Welcoming the contract award, Jérôme Furgé, Align Project Director said “I have worked on many major projects around the world, and find it a special privilege to be working on HS2. This project will require a unique level of collaboration between all of us and the highest industry standards, expected by HS2, will be implemented in order to obtain the very best outcome. My Align colleagues and I are delighted to be part of the challenge to deliver a world-class asset to the UK.

The largely rural stages between the Chilterns Tunnel and Long Itchington will be built by a team made up of Carillion, Eiffage and Kier (CEK JV). Welcoming the contract award, Sean Jeffery, Executive Director and Chairman of CEK JV Board said “We are delighted to have been selected to help deliver this major infrastructure project and look forward to working in partnership with HS2. Our involvement in this project will enable us to create many new jobs and training opportunities as well as working with a diverse range of supply chain businesses from across the UK.”

A team made up of Balfour Beatty and VINCI will complete the route, taking the line north past Birmingham Airport and into the new Curzon Street station in the centre of Birmingham, as well as onward to a connection with the existing West Coast Mainline at Handsacre. Welcoming the contract award, Mark Cutler, Balfour Beatty VINCI HS2 Managing Director, said “I am proud that our long-standing joint venture has been chosen to deliver these two important and complex sections of HS2.

“This iconic rail infrastructure project will create significant opportunities for the UK construction industry and enable long term benefits in skills, jobs and regional prosperity. We look forward to building on our successful track record of major infrastructure projects, and playing our part in the delivery of HS2.”

The contracts are two-stage, with the contractors spending the first 16 months working collaboratively with HS2 Ltd on the detailed design before construction begins around 2018/19. Preparatory work has already begun on the project with geological investigation underway across the route and ecological and archaeological work due to begin soon.

Last week the government awarded £6.6bn in contracts to build the new high-speed HS2 railway between London and Birmingham, to companies including crisis-ridden construction firm Carillion.

Construction work is due to begin next year on new stations, tunnels, embankments and viaducts on the London to Birmingham line, which forms the first phase of the controversial HS2 project. The civil engineering alone is expected to create 16,000 jobs.

It was welcomed as a “shot in the arm for Brexit Britain, providing thousands of jobs and billions investment that helps close the north-south divide,” but is that really the case?

According to CMF Capital’s John Mulheron, perhaps more worrying is the budget to deliver and whether it will support the vision of wider UK growth and prosperity. “The figures are eye-watering and the debate on whether HS2 is value for money a hot topic. Back in January 2012 £32.7bn was set aside for the total project. That figure now stands at £55.7bn.”

“Opponents have warned that the government is underestimating the costs, and that construction has already been delayed. The overall budget was revised up, but estimates drawn up on behalf of Lord Berkeley, chairman of the Rail Freight Group, suggested it could be as high as £111bn which would be a serious overspend and bring into question its value for money.” Commented Mulheron.

Lord Berkeley’s calculation was produced by Michael Byng, an expert for the Department of Transport who devised the standard method used for Network Rail to cost projects. It essentially works out to £403m a mile to build, which is 15 times the ‘cost per mile’ compared to the latest French TGV project extension. The stretch from London Euston to Old Oak Common has escalated to £8.25bn alone.

Whilst that figure was dismissed as nonsense, it’s worth pointing out the Chris Grayling’s submitted budget doesn’t include trains – about £7bn of new ‘state of the art’ rolling stock is needed. With the Government’s focus on Brexit negotiations, the fall-out from Grenfell and the fall-outs within the cabinet, it seems wise to urgently assign a few more bean counters to Grayling’s team for a little more diligence. Diligence to date has cost about £2bn in planning fee’s alone – nice work if you can get it.

So, what are the reasons for the spiralling costs? “The UK is densely populated with high degrees of home ownership (for those over 35 years old) and a high use of the railway infrastructure. All of which makes the price of land and the cost of disruption very expensive. If this was China or Russia the bulldozers would simply pile through. Fortunately, here people have rights and they are prepared to dig their heels in over them, this is likely to slow progress even further.” Said the CMF Capital Managing Director.

Whilst HS2 will create direct engineering and construction jobs, it will also impact employment in the short term. As homes get demolished local business communities that relied on their weekly spend will go under. In a poll, back in November last year an overwhelming 77% of the public would prefer the billions being spent on HS2 to go to the NHS and public services. No doubt given the latest crime figures that percentage might be a touch higher.

Looking at the proposed phase 2 routes also unveiled this week, the obvious omission is there is still no plan to join Manchester to Leeds or Leeds to the North East. The M62 is a daily carpark and the rail network linking these key cities frankly embarrassing.

Transport for the North, the body set up to deliver new infrastructure argues that by just improving transport connections across the Pennines – halving the Leeds to Manchester journey to 30mins – it would bring greater economic benefit than the high-speed link to London ever could. A five-fold boost to rail travel by 2050 could add £100bn to the region’s economy and create 850,000 new jobs.

“The other ongoing argument is that whilst HS2 will increase capacity to our current creaking Victorian network, it will simply make it quicker to travel to London and not benefit the northern powerhouse regions. That phrase that has all but disappeared from Tory manifestos since George Osbourne was told to get a new handful of jobs.” Commented Mulheron.

With businesses scrambling to promote themselves to a wider global audience in the wake of Brexit, it’s no wonder the north of England, with a GDP of £350bn – equivalent to the 21st largest economy in the world and exports 19% of the UK total continually feels like London’s second cousin twice removed. Expanding Heathrow at vast cost is another example of a London centric approach to growth and there are no plans for HS2 to link up to the airport.

Whilst the phrase Northern Powerhouse might have died, the region’s revival goes on. Aerospace, manufacturing, engineering and digital industries are growing at pace. The regional purchasing managers’ surveys show growth faster than the national average. But it’s still not shifting the ‘productivity needle’. Which, is what ministers and economists are pinning on HS2 to help solve.

“As ever, there is no one silver bullet and we need more immediate solutions than a project set to take decades to complete. Currently, not a single metre of track has been laid. To compete in a global economy the region needs to take advantage of new trading opportunities beyond Europe. There is capacity at Manchester and Leeds airports, so opening new trans-Atlantic or Asian routes would send an instant signal that we’re open to business across the country.” Concluded Mulheron.

The news that HS2 is progressing should be met with gentle applause, but more needs to be done in the short term to build confidence that in turn fuels investment. One final point to note, HS2’s announcement coincided with Elon Musk receiving verbal approval from the US Government to take his Hyperloop concept to the next stage.

Journey times from Washington to New York City would be around 29mins. Edinburgh to London, phase one of his European ‘Hyperloop One’ would be about 50mins of travel. Given the pace at which HS2 is likely to progress, Musk might still beat us to the ticket barriers.

The winners of the major construction contracts for Britain’s new railway were announced today (17 July 2017), with the £6.6 billion contracts supporting 16,000 jobs across the country.

16,000 jobs will be supported through contract opportunities over the next 6 years.

The huge infrastructure investment covers the main civil engineering work on the first phase of HS2 between London and Birmingham – including construction of tunnels, bridges, embankments and viaducts.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling announced the decision to award contracts today, which will mean the new high speed link reaching Birmingham by 2026.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said “This is a hugely important step in the construction of Britain’s new railway and underlines this government’s determination to deliver an economy that works for all.

“HS2 will deliver vital links between some of our country’s biggest cities, helping to drive economic growth and productivity in the north and midlands.

“As well as providing desperately needed new seats and better connecting our major cities, HS2 will help rebalance our economy.

“We will now get on with building the railway, while continuing to ensure affected communities get appropriate support and are treated with fairness, compassion and respect.”

David Higgins, Chairman of HS2 Ltd, added “This is a huge day for the HS2 project and for the country. These contracts will support 16,000 jobs here in Britain and will create opportunities for thousands of SMEs.

“HS2 was always designed to be much more than just a high speed railway and today we can see the opportunities it brings right around the country – spreading prosperity, acting as a catalyst for investment and rebalancing our economy 10 years before the railway even opens. Business now has the surety to invest with confidence to build a legacy for Britain.”

HS2 could carry more than 300,000 people a day. And with fast trains using the new line, there will be extra space for more trains on the existing rail network.

Benefits will be felt across the network with trains running as far as Scotland and the number of seats available out of Euston in peak hours more than doubled.

In total, construction of the full HS2 route to the north-west and Yorkshire will create up to 25,000 jobs and 2,000 apprenticeships. Another 3,000 people will operate HS2 and it is estimated that growth around new HS2 stations will create another 100,000 jobs.

2,000 apprenticeships will be created.

In February, Parliament granted powers to construct the Phase One route from London Euston to Birmingham, with the route opening in 2026.

The winning bidders to build the first phase of the route are:

Area South

Euston Tunnels and Approaches – SCS JV (Skanska Construction UK Ltd, Costain Ltd, STRABAG AG)
Northolt Tunnels – SCS JV (Skanska Construction UK Ltd, Costain Ltd, STRABAG AG)

Area Central

Chiltern Tunnels and Colne Valley Viaduct – Align JV (Bouygues Travaux Publics, VolkerFitzpatrick, Sir Robert McAlpine)
North Portal Chiltern Tunnels to Brackley – CEK JV (Carillion Construction Ltd, Eiffage Genie Civil SA, Kier Infrastructure and Overseas Ltd)
Brackley to South Portal of Long Itchington Wood Green Tunnel – CEK JV (Carillion Construction Ltd, Eiffage Genie Civil SA, Kier Infrastructure and Overseas Ltd)

Area North

Long Itchington Wood Green Tunnel to Delta Junction and Birmingham Spur – BBV JV (Balfour Beatty Group Ltd, VINCI Construction Grands Projets, VINCI Construction UK Ltd, VINCI Construction Terrassement)
Delta Junction to WCML Tie-In – BBV JV (Balfour Beatty Group Ltd, VINCI Construction Grands Projets, VINCI Construction UK Ltd, VINCI Construction Terrassement)
Preparatory works are already underway, with main construction work starting in 2018/19 following a period of detailed design work.

In addition, HS2 stations at Euston, Old Oak Common and in Birmingham will be central to HS2 and the work needed to develop designs is also well underway. Both the invitations to tender (ITTs) for the station design services contracts for all 4 Phase One stations and the invitation to participate in dialogue (ITPD) for the Euston Master Development Partner have been released to shortlisted bidders.

These are significant milestones which show how progress is continuing to deliver stations that will be embraced by the local communities, drive economic growth and provide seamless journeys for passengers.

The Transport Secretary will today publish a Bill to deliver the next phase of HS2, from the West Midlands to the West Coast Main Line south of Crewe.

This means – subject to Parliamentary approval – this part of the route can open in 2027, 6 years earlier than planned, to bring the benefits of HS2 to the north and Scotland sooner.

The Transport Secretary will also confirm the final Phase 2b route, from Crewe to Manchester and Birmingham to the East Midlands and Leeds. This phase will complete HS2 and unlock the transformative project’s full benefits for the country.

The search for world-class architects, designers and developers to deliver four ambitious and iconic new HS2 stations has begun with the publication of contract opportunities for station designs and a development partner for London Euston.

The winning bidders will work with High Speed Two (HS2) Ltd to develop and refine the detailed plans for three brand new stations, at Birmingham Curzon Street, Birmingham Interchange and London’s Old Oak Common, as well as a major expansion of London Euston.

The stations will welcome tens of thousands of passengers every day from all over the UK, providing easy and accessible onward connections to local transport, airports and connecting rail services as well as step-free access from street to seat. In total more than 170,000 new jobs are expected to be created in the wider development areas surrounding the four stations.

A separate contest, will seek a Master Development Partner to advise on, and later take forward, development opportunities for new homes, offices and retail space above and around the revamped London Euston. The winner will work with HS2 Ltd, Network Rail, the station design contract winner and local authorities to deliver a unified plan to unlock the full potential of the area.

This comprehensive approach has the potential to deliver up to 21 hectares of development space as well as improving accessibility and creating new public and green spaces across the wider Euston site.

Welcoming the launch of the competition, Transport Minister Andrew Jones said “The search for design teams to produce plans for new stations and world-class amenities for London Euston, Old Oak Common, Birmingham Interchange and Birmingham Curzon Street stations is a major step towards making HS2 a catalyst for growth across the country. The winning bidders will need to ensure the stations provide the best possible customer experience. There are also huge opportunities for development near all the HS2 stations. HS2 Ltd is progressing its search for a partner to deliver new homes, shops and offices around Euston station once the core HS2 work is complete.

HS2 Ltd Commercial Director Beth West added “We’re looking for the brightest and the best from across the industry to help us deliver one of the most tangible legacies of the HS2 project – three brand new stations and a major expansion of London Euston.

“All four present unique challenges and opportunities for the winning bidders. Together we will deliver world-class designs that help unlock wider local regeneration opportunities and provide unparalleled levels of accessibility, ease and convenience for the travelling public.”

Following the news that the first major works contracts for High Speed 2 worth around £900m have been awarded to three consortia*, a survey conducted by the ITV Tonight programme into issues surrounding HS2 has found:

  • Only 15% feel that HS2 is worth £56bn
  • 58% don’t think it’s a price worth paying
  • 77% of people would prefer that the money was spent in other areas, like the NHS
  • Nearly three-quarters of people thought HS2 would lead to price rises for train tickets
  • 60% said they would not pay more to ride on HS2
  • 7% would be prepared to pay increased prices for the high speed line
  • 80% said they felt sympathy for people who may lose their homes to HS2, even though they may be compensated
  • 11% people thought the high speed rail link would benefit the majority of commuters
  • 23% are not aware that HS2 is being planned

Additionally, less than 20% of respondents thought they would use HS2 when built, and only a third of people feeling that HS2 will benefit the north.

Joe Rukin, Stop HS2 Campaign Manager responded “After six and a half years of trying to con people into thinking HS2 is a good idea, public support for this white elephant is at an all-time low. It’s clear the spin from Government isn’t working as not only do only 15% think it’ll be worth the money, they’ve also seen through the spin, with the vast majority thinking it won’t benefit commuters, it won’t benefit the north and it will lead to an increase in the cost of train tickets. Quite simply, no-one is buying the hype and it is time to cancel HS2 before it is too late.”

Penny Gaines, chair of Stop HS2 added “We have yet another survey that shows the British people don’t think HS2 is worth the £56 billion pound price tag. This is the same message as from numerous other surveys. People can see the downsides, they won’t use HS2 and they are worried that HS2 will mean increased fare prices on the trains they do use. With the Government’s intention that whoever gets the West Coast Main Line franchise will also run HS2 for the first few years, it is even more likely that conventional speed fares will go up.”

*North: LM JV (Laing O’Rourke Construction, J Murphy & Sons)
South: CS JV (Costain, Skanska Construction UK )
Central: Fusion JV (Morgan Sindall, BAM Nuttall, Ferrovial Agroman (UK)

The CEO of HS2 project, Simon Kirby is leaving HS2 for a new job with Rolls-Royce as chief operating officer.

Kirby was announced as CEO of HS2 Ltd in January 2014, but controversially did not join HS2 Ltd until June 2014, meaning he could cash in on a £300,000 ‘loyalty bonus’ from Network Rail. Not long after he and Chairman Sir David Higgins joined from Network Rail, it became evident that many of the projects they had been responsible were over budget and behind schedule, leading to then Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin ‘pausing’ electrification projects pending review.

On joining HS2 Ltd, Kirby became the highest paid civil servant in the country, earning £750,000, five times the salary of the Prime Minister. he justified this saying he could get the project in on time and budget, but since then both the budget and the timescales have gone the wrong way.

Simon Kirby made it clear that he is not leaving due to a loss of confidence in the project, saying in a statement on the government website: “HS2 is not just a highly ambitious project, but also one which will leave a lasting legacy for Britain. It has been, therefore, a huge honour to have been its Chief Executive and to have been involved in creating a leadership team made up of the best talents from this country and elsewhere. I have absolute confidence in their ability to deliver the project and, in doing so, to help transform the way we do things in this country.”

This is being refuted by many, with Stop HS2 Campaign Manager Joe Rukin commenting “When Simon Kirby was at Network Rail, he presided over failing projects with inflating costs and delays, but got out before anyone noticed how bad it really was. With HS2 deadlines constantly put back, spiralling costs, secret reports and devastating analyses of the project from every independent body which has investigated it, you can’t help think he is doing the same thing again, getting out before the true scale of the mess he has presided over is realised.”

“The departure of Simon Kirby will be a serious blow to those who champion HS2, though many of us are at a complete loss to see just exactly what it is he has done to justify his three-quarter of a million pay packet.”

A deal has been signed between Birmingham City Council and the fifth largest property developer in China to focus on HS2 and deliver homes for Birmingham.

As part of the agreement, which is estimated to be worth up to £2bn to the local economy, the Hong Kong Stock Exchange-listed company Country Garden intend to explore large-scale investment opportunities in and around the city.

The news of this agreement follows this week’s China visit by Prime Minister Theresa May for the G20 summit. Following the referendum result, the government have being investigating the potential for Chinese investment in major UK construction projects..

Council leader Cllr John Clancy commented on the potential that China have to offer, saying “The landscape has inevitably changed post-Brexit and Birmingham is already out of the starting blocks. That’s why I’m here selling our city to many of China’s leading investors.

“This agreement is about bringing good jobs and quality homes to Birmingham. Country Garden have a proven track record of building homes at pace and scale. They have played a major role over the last 20 years, as housebuilders have met the massive demands of China’s rapidly expanding economy.

“Bringing this level of investment and experience to Birmingham would be a massive economic boost to the region’s businesses, skills base and families. It’s about bringing new, big capital spend to the city, quickly. This is about building houses, jobs and futures for young Brummies and families across the region.

“Country Garden understand the demands in Birmingham and are clearly excited at the prospect of investing in our young, growing city.”

Country Garden founder and chairman Mr Yang Guoqiang commented “I have been impressed with Birmingham’s ambition and huge potential and I am delighted to announce this investment commitment to support significant housing and infrastructure development in the city.

“We have a proven track record in delivering quality housing at a scale to match Birmingham’s ambitions and with major projects coming to the city, including the forthcoming High Speed two project, these are exciting times for Country Garden and Birmingham.”

The new Secretary of State for transport, pledged to continue backing HS2, following uncertainty around the project post-Brexit.

On a BBC Radio 4 interview, Chris Grayling promised not to scrap plans for high speed 2, despite suggestions having been made that HS2 is under threat of being cancelled by David Cameron and industry experts. Grayling said “I have no plans to back away from the HS2 project.”

Before the Referendum, in June, Prime Minister David Cameron addressed Yorkshire residents at the Yorkshire Post’s offices in Leeds, and warned of uncertainty for the project if Britain left the EU.

“If we stay in [the EU] all our plans are fully intact and that includes HS2, and what we have said about HS3, and the overall rail investment programme,” he said.

“If we come out, of course I’m sure we will want to try and maintain these important investments. But when you hear nine out of ten economists, the Bank of England, the Treasury, the IMF and now the National Institute [of Economic and Social Research] all saying our economy will be smaller and will generate less tax revenue, obviously that does threaten potentially some public spending programmes.”

In the interview, which took place on the BBC radio program “The World This Weekend”, the Transport Secretary explained that the importance of HS2 is two-fold; not only will it speed up transport links between the North and South, but it will also help meet an increasing infrastructural demand and ease congestion on overcrowded roads and trains.

Grayling said: “The thing that’s important for people to understand is that HS2 is not simply a speed project, it’s a capacity project. We have lines at the moment which have seen huge increases in the number of passengers, the amount of freight in recent years.”

“The west coast mainline, for example, is becoming really congested. It’s limiting the capacity of services to places like Northampton and Milton Keynes.

“Of course it makes sense, if we’re going to build a new railway line, for it to be a fast railway line, to reduce travel times from north to south. That’s logical.

“But actually we need a better transport system for the 21st century, and HS2 is part of increasing the capacity of our transport system.”

Suggestions have been made that HS2 is under threat of being cancelled, following the UK’s vote to leave the EU.

“The priority for the Government at this time will not be big sexy projects such as HS2,” said Lord Berkeley (Labour peer and Chairman of the Rail Freight Group).

This was a sentiment echoed by Richard Threlfall, head of infrastructure at KPMG, who said: “Getting attention on important strategic infrastructure decisions, I fear, has just got significantly harder.”

Before the Referendum, in June, Prime Minister David Cameron addressed Yorkshire residents at the Yorkshire Post’s offices in Leeds, and warned of uncertainty for the project if Britain left the EU.

“If we stay in [the EU] all our plans are fully intact and that includes HS2, and what we have said about HS3, and the overall rail investment programme,” he said.

“If we come out, of course I’m sure we will want to try and maintain these important investments. But when you hear nine out of ten economists, the Bank of England, the Treasury, the IMF and now the National Institute [of Economic and Social Research] all saying our economy will be smaller and will generate less tax revenue, obviously that does threaten potentially some public spending programmes.”

With uncertainty over the future leadership of the Conservative party and whether the new leader will be supportive of HS2, critics of the project are hopeful.

However, HS2 spokesman Ben Ruse said in RAIL Magazine “We are continuing to make HS2 a reality. It is business as usual and could very well be that HS2 is need now more than ever.”

Written by Stefanie Browne