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Labour studying HS2 costs amid questions over fate of Manchester leg

Fresh questions have been asked about the fate of the new HS2 railway line after a senior Labour figure declined to commit to the project being built in full.

Pat McFadden, who is also shadow chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, told BBC One’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg: “We want to see the railway being built, it looks as though the Government is now putting a question mark over this, there may be revised costs to that.

“When this started, a price tag of about £30 billion was put on it. Those prices haven’t been raised since 2019 – we’ve had quite a lot of inflation since then.

“So, I want to see what happens in the coming months, we want to see the railway being built but we’ve also – like everything else – got to look at the cost of everything we do.”

Asked to confirm Labour was now not committing to completing the full original route on HS2, he said: “I want to see what this costs and we’ll make those decisions when it comes to the manifesto.”

Recent days have seen speculation about future of the high-profile project, after Downing Street refused to guarantee the HS2 railway line will run to Manchester as planned.

The planned railway is intended to link London, the Midlands and the North of England but has been plagued by delays and soaring costs.

Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg
Pat McFadden was speaking on BBC One’s Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg (Jeff Overs/BBC/PA)

It comes as the Times newspaper reported that Rishi Sunak has concerns about the project, with plans to potentially end the line early in Old Oak Common in north-west London as part of a drastic cost cutting exercise.

Ministers have already moved to pause parts of the project, which some Tory MPs have called to be scrapped entirely.

It was confirmed in March that construction of the Birmingham to Crewe leg of the high-speed railway would be delayed by two years and that services may not enter central London until the 2040s.

Shadow security minister Dan Jarvis, a former South Yorkshire mayor, reiterated the points made by Mr McFadden.

Mr Jarvis, the Barnsley Central MP, has been a key backer of the project in the past.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Westminster Hour, he said: “Pat was absolutely right, in the sense that we just don’t know what the Government are going to do. They seem to sort of change their mind and I have to say the notion that HS2 might continue but not come in to Euston just seems absolutely ridiculous.

“It’s been, frankly, a disaster from start to finish. They need to get a grip of it. And we need to look at how we can more effectively invest in our transport infrastructure right around the country.”