HS2 ‘£10bn cheaper' with private finance

Costs of the High Speed Two (HS2) rail line could be cut by £10bn if private finance was used to deliver it, according to former minister Lord Heseltine.

The Conservative grandee described himself as a “strong advocate” of the HS2 concept, but said significant savings could be achieved if the private sector contributed to the cost.

Speaking at the Royal Town Planning Institute, he pointed to the Channel Tunnel rail link, or HS1, which was sold as a 30-year concession in 2011.

“I understand that at the same ratio, something in the order of £10bn could be realised for a similar concession on HS2,” he said.

The former deputy prime minister also called on the government to accelerate the programme to realise savings in the project.

“It is not about 30 minutes off London to Birmingham,” Lord Heseltine continued, arguing that the line should be built not simply for its speed, but for its benefit in tackling congestion and providing a way to improve economies across the country.