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Express & Star comment: Hold fat-cat HS2 chiefs to account

By Star Comment | Opinions | Published:

Another day, another story of controversy centred on Britain’s new high-speed railway line.

HS2

It has emerged how 318 employees at HS2 were paid more than £100,000 in salaries and perks last year.

That figure shockingly doubled from the year before, and now amounts to a staggering 24 per cent of all staff.

As if that was not preposterous enough, the controversial project also increased the cash paid out to consultants to an eye-popping £600 million last year.

Is it any surprise the cost of this ‘revolutionary’ scheme is now way above its original budget?

It is now forecast that the bill will be around £100 billion. That for a project which started with a budget of £56bn.

Such out-of-control spending is not helped by the £1.7m going on unauthorised redundancy payments last year, after the company moved its HQ from London to Birmingham. MPs described it as a shocking waste of taxpayers’ money.

What is crystal clear now is that there are many, many people getting rich quick on the back of this muddled and long-winded project.

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And we, as the public, are getting sick and tired of hearing about it.

We want our money to go toward a cost-effective project which will be delivered on time.

Backers say the line will save around half an hour on our journeys from Birmingham to London, down to 49 minutes, and take around half an hour off trips from Leeds to London – down to one hour 28 minutes.

But is this, the country’s most expensive infrastructure project, really worth it? Now has come the time for politicians to look more closely inside this shambolically-run project.

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They must hold those mismanaging this scheme to account. This is our cash, we deserve much, much better.

All this comes at a time the project leaders should surely be attempting everything to show-off this high-speed rail line as value-for-money in a bid to win our support.

But instead, their lack of transparency, efficiency and sense of reality is offering little or no reassurance to a sceptical public which is losing confidence fast.

We still remain unconvinced that this horrendous Cameron-esque white elephant will ever see the light of day.

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