Rise in rail workers' wages could push up HS2 bill by £3 billion

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A 74 per cent hike in wages for rail workers could see the bill for HS2 rocket by £3 billion, campaigners claim.

A study has found a steep rise in rail construction staff's pay from 2012 to 2014.

And residents battling the HS2 project say the £50bn cost was based on 2011 prices.

It has emerged rail construction workers now have the highest average weekly pay in the construction industry, rising from £492.40 in 2012 to £856.50 in 2014.

This increase is in comparison to a 0.9 per cent increase for the sector as a whole for the same period.

The figures from No Palaver, a leading provider of accounting services to contractors, show average pay of rail construction workers has massively outstripped the average pay in the sector, which has only risen from £582.50 to £587.70 per week between 2012 and 2014.

In November, a study by the University of Dundee claimed HS2 will need an average monthly workforce of 11,580 over the 15 years it will take to build.

So campaigners say this wage increase would add more than £3bn to the current £50bn official cost of the project.

However, the current official costs for HS2 are still based on 2011 prices with construction not due to start until 2017 at the earliest, so the eventual wage related cost increase to the project could be much higher, they say.


Stop HS2 campaign manager Joe Rukin said: "Ever since HS2 was first announced, the projected costs have gone up and this will only continue.

"Adding in just these two years of wage inflation in the rail construction industry would jack up the bill by over three billion pounds, but with the costs still being based on 2011 prices, there will be six years of wage inflation to add before construction is due to start and 21 years of inflation to add by the time the buffers go down in Manchester and Leeds."

"These figures need updating so the public can see just how much of a waste of money this white elephant would be."

HS2 Ltd spokesman Alastair Cowan said: "It is too early to say whether these findings will have an impact or not.

"It is really important to remember that this is a long term project and during that time wages will go up and down many times."

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