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"The government has dismissed reports that the cost of HS2, the high-speed rail project, will escalate to a politically unacceptable £73bn, saying the figures were 'completely misleading'.
"The figure is being discussed privately by Treasury insiders, according to the Financial Times. It comes days after the Institute for Economic Affairs (IEA), a free-market thinktank, warned the project could nearly double in cost to £80bn and should be scrapped.
"Officially the scheme, which will build a high-speed network linking London to Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds by 2033, will cost £42.6bn – already a rise of almost £10bn from the original figure when HS2 was approved in early 2012. Trains will cost another £7bn, and these figures are all at 2011 prices."