U.K. Lawmakers Push Theresa May Over $73 Billion Rail Link

  • Panel asks whether High-Speed 2 line will be built by 2027
  • Parliamentary group wants plan for 7 billion-pound funding gap

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May needs to clarify the timetable and funding for a 55 billion-pound ($73 billion) high-speed rail line from London to the north of England, a panel of lawmakers said.

The U.K. government must say whether phase one of the HS2 project, given the go-ahead by May’s predecessor David Cameron, will be completed in 2026 or 2027 and address concerns over a 7 billion-pound funding gap, Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee said in a report published Wednesday. The Department for Transport is due to announce details for the route north of Birmingham in the coming months.

The change of political leadership following Britain’s vote to leave the European Union has raised doubts over hundreds of billions of pounds worth of planned infrastructure projects, from airport expansion to the first new nuclear power plant in a generation. Plans for the railway line are further complicated by the departure of Simon Kirby, chief executive officer of HS2 Ltd., the company responsible for building the high-speed network.

Kirby’s exit “adds to the uncertainty enveloping a project on which strong and stable leadership is vital,” Meg Hillier, chairwoman of the committee, said in an e-mailed statement. “Parliament and the public are still in the dark about crucial details -– not least when the railway will open, how much it is expected to cost and precisely where it will go.”

Transport minister Andrew Jones said the government remains committed to completing the line from Birmingham to the northern English cities of Manchester and Leeds in a statement to Parliament on Tuesday. Part of the route will open in 2027, he said.

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