I sense impending disaster here for this project, which has been the source of much long standing anxiety in many rural communities. This story connected with Chris Grayling tells us…

Ministers have delayed signing off on the first half of spending for High Speed 2 over concerns about the project’s spiralling costs, The Telegraph can disclose.

A formal “notice to proceed” on the major construction works for the first phase of the project has been put back six months until December – suggesting the government-owned firm behind the scheme will miss its target begin building its tunnels, viaducts and bridges later this year.

The order, which would have unlocked up to £27 billion for the first phase of the line, was due to be issued in June.

But HS2 Ltd is struggling to keep costs contained within the overall budget of £56 billion, meaning ministers will not allow the firm to enter agreements with contractors to begin construction based on the current design.

A Whitehall source said the delay came after Chris Grayling, the Transport Secretary made “very clear to HS2” that they must stick to the budget.

The source insisted the line was “crucial”  to providing the transport capacity the country needs. But the delay, which comes amid mounting calls for the scheme to be scrapped, could leave it vulnerable to cancellation by Theresa May’s successor as Tory leader – or even a Labour Government, in the event that the Conservatives lose a general election in the meantime.

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