The cost of building the HS2 railway line will be £70bn, nearly twice as much as the official estimate, London Mayor Boris Johnson has said.
Writing in Monday’s Daily Telegraph, Johnson said, “This thing isn’t going to cost £42bn, my friends. The real cost is going to be way north of that (keep going till you reach £70bn, and then keep going).”
Johnson took a dig at Lord Mandelson, saying that the former business secretary “is actually doing the bidding of some fainthearts”.
“That is why the Treasury is starting to panic, and the word around the campfire is that Lord Mandelson is actually doing the bidding of some fainthearts in Whitehall who want to stop it now – not the first or second Lords of the Treasury, clearly, but the beancounters,” he added.
The Mayor went on to say that the British taxpayer will fork out £1bn on consultation and litigation by 2015.
“It is the environmental impact assessments and the equalities impact assessments and the will-sapping tedium and cost of the consultations.
“Did you know that in order to build HS2 we are going to spend £1bn by 2015 – and they won’t have turned a single sod in Buckinghamshire or anywhere else?
“That is a billion quid going straight down the gullets of lawyers and planners and consultants before you have even invested in a yard of track.
“To understand the prohibitive costs of UK infrastructure, you need to take this heamorrhage of cash to consultants, and then multiply it by the time devoted to political dithering.”
The HS2 will link London to Birmingham by 2026 and work is due to begin in 2017.
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