Update - Will HS2 be built? Work continues during inquiry 'in event government chooses to continue'

Protesters along the HS2 line in our region campaign against the High Speed 2 rail project
Protesters along the HS2 line in our region campaign against the High Speed 2 rail project

The future of HS2, which will disrupt Banburyshire countryside, may be hanging in the balance.

The Transport Salaried Staffs' Association (TSSA) reported today (Tuesday) that the first leg of the new rail link between London and Birmingham - due to open in 2026 - may be put back as far as 2029.

At the same time Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced an independent review of the project saying the costs are now estimated at £81bn - £88bn in 2019 prices, against estimates of £55.7bn at 2015 prices (which would now be £62.4bn).

In a written statement to Parliament he said: "During the short period in which the independent review completes its work I have authorised HS2 Ltd to continue the current works that are taking place on the project. This will ensure we are ready to proceed without further delay for the main construction stage of Phase 1 in the event that the government chooses to continue."

TSSA General Secretary, Manuel Cortes, reacted angrily in a press statement. He said: “There is no good reason for delaying on HS2. Ministers should be told flatly - no way!

“A delay will simply set back our economy and hamper the much needed clean and green evolution of our transport infrastructure.

“Our northern cities and the wider economy just can’t afford to wait. They are crying out for the boost HS2 will give to regional economies.

“Let’s be under no illusions - high-speed rail has been up and running in other European countries for decades. Why is it we lack so much ambition? We must say No Way to delay!

“To be honest the Tory Government needs to put the national interest first and get on with HS2, instead of trying to bury the bad news of delay amid the turmoil of Brexit.”