HS2 'to cost 25% more than overseas rail schemes'

A report that the new High Speed Two (HS2) rail line will cost significantly more than other similar rail projects in other countries features in today's newspaper round-up.

The Times reports that the construction of the High Speed Two rail line will cost 25 per cent more than similar rail projects in other countries, "prompting further warnings that the scheme is too expensive". It said a report commissioned by HS2 Ltd, the government-owned company promoting the project, is "expected to show that costs are far higher than those for networks elsewhere because of population density, the cost of land and skills shortages". It adds: "The conclusions risk casting a further shadow over the £55.7 billion project after repeated warnings that spending is at risk of spiralling out of control. The report by the auditors PWC is expected to be published by HS2 within weeks after being withheld for about two years."

The Guardian says the government has published "ambitious plans to build a national cycleway up the spine of England along the proposed HS2 high-speed railway". The article states: "The corridor considered by the study incorporates six of the largest cities in England and more than 200 towns and villages, broadly following the route of HS2 from London to Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester." The feasibility study was completed in 2016 but was only released yesterday, according to the newspaper. It adds that "neither the Department for Transport nor HS2 Ltd, the company building the highspeed line, have any current plans to fund the cycleway" and councils "would be forced to fund their own sections, with help from the private sector".

The Mirror has a story about a farmer in Devon who built a "huge 'Berlin Wall' of hay bales when denied planning permission", which then fell over and destroyed gravestones in a neighbouring cemetery. It said the farmer, who lives near Barnstaple, built the 25 foot "hay mountain" after being repeatedly refused planning permission for three new homes on his land. He was refused permission by his local councils on the grounds they would have been an eyesore, the newspaper says. It adds: "He decided to stack bales on top of each other higher than the proposed homes to 'make a point'. But his protest backfired spectacularly when several bales flew off the top as Storm Callum hit."

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