New high speed rail project, HS2, could run on a slower time table with fewer trains according to the company’s CEO, in order to remain “within budget”.
The government-backed development has been criticised for “misleading MPs”, claims which the project’s operator has rejected. Leader of the Commons, Andrea Leadsom questioned the “viability” of the plans at a meeting of an all-party parliamentary railway group last November, leading to HS2 suggesting a number of cost-cutting measures.
Leadsom told Mark Thurston, CEO of HS2 that “a number of changes to the project may have to be considered in order to keep it within budget and on time”. The options discussed are said to include lowering train speeds of up to 225mph by about 30mph, changing from a slab to a ballast track and lowering the number of trains per hour from 18 to 14, according to the MP for South Northamptonshire.
Thurston said of the potential cost-cutting measures: “If, at some point in the future, we are instructed to consider any of these options, then more detailed work on the effect of such changes would of course take place.”
It is reported that the changes would lead to capacity being reduced by up to 8,800 passengers an hour during peak times.
At the start of the month, the UK’s first “manufacturing zones” were announced in order to support work for the new rail network.