The final bill for HS2 could top £90 billion, if the project follows in the footsteps of other government-managed large infrastructure projects, according to The Taxpayers’ Alliance.
The think tank said despite government’s insistence that HS2 will be delivered on budget, taxpayers should take “no comfort given their appalling track record”.
The government has cited the London 2012 Olympics as evidence they can deliver big projects to budget. However, Taxpayers Alliance claims the final cost was £9.3 billion, up from an original budget of £2.4 billion.
How HS2's cost could escalate if it goes over budget to the same degree as other transport projects:
Projected cost (£bn, 2016 prices)
Minneapolis Hiawatha light rail line
Boston–New York–Washington Railway
London Limehouse Road Tunnel
London Jubilee Line extension
High-speed Rail Line South, The Netherlands
John O'Connell, Chief Executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: "It beggars belief that the Government seems set to plough ahead with the first phase of this hugely expensive vanity project. Instead, politicians should opt for smaller, more effective infrastructure projects which would actually benefit the economy and help drivers, commuters, businesses and taxpayers.
"All the evidence shows that big government projects are delivered way over budget and almost never to deadline, so to allocate tens of billions of taxpayers' money to this white elephant is a big mistake."
A spokesperson for the Department for Transport (DfT) said: "HS2 will become the backbone of our national rail network – creating more seats for passengers, supporting growth and regeneration and helping us build an economy that works for all. We are keeping a tough grip on costs and the project is on time and on budget at £55.7bn."