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HS2 rail line could be further delayed to cut costs, says boss

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The boss of HS2 has said that construction of the high-speed rail line could be further delayed in an effort to curb costs.Mark Thurston, the chief executive of HS2 Ltd, said that soaring inflation had resulted in significant increases in the price of materials, raising the already ballooning cost of the much-delayed project to link London, the Midlands and the north of England.“Whether that’s in timber, steel, aggregates for all the concrete we need to use to build the job, labour, all our energy costs, fuel,” he told the BBC.Discussions are under way with the government over the timing and phasing of the project, which employs 30,000 workers, with the first stretch between London and Birmingham 40% complete.“We’re looking at the timing of the project, the phasing of the project, we’re looking at where we can use our supply chain to secure a lot of those things that are costing us more through inflation,” he said.The price tag of the project, which is the biggest of its kind in Europe, has ballooned from £33bn outlined in 2010 to at least £71bn.Under “Project Silverlight”, ways are being examined to deal with cost pressures on the London-Birmingham stretch.In January, the chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, denied speculation that HS2 trains would not run from Old Oak Common, in west London, to Euston, in central London.

He said he did not see “any conceivable circumstances” in which the planned Euston terminus would not go ahead.It had been reported that the project could instead terminate permanently in the western suburbs of the capital to save money.Thurston said HS2 was “protecting” the scope of the first phase.Sign up to Business TodayGet set for the working day – we'll point you to all the business news and analysis you

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