Isabella Fish — Daily Mail Aug 8, 2018
A quarter of employees for the new high-speed railway are on six-figure pay packets, it was reported last night.
HS2 paid 318 officials at least £100,000 in wages and perks last year, compared to just 115 staff between 2015 and 2016.
The taxpayer-owned company behind the project also spent more than £600million on consultants – more than double the figure of the year before.
HS2 Ltd has 1,346 staff, meaning 24 per cent of workers are currently enjoying a six-figure remuneration package including salary, bonus and pension contributions.
The proportion stood at four per cent four years ago, while it was less than 17 per cent two years ago.
The figures also revealed that 15 staff received more than £251,000 a year – with 112 topping £150,000 a year.
The scale of pay has fuelled concerns over the mounting costs of the rail project.
Martin Blaiklock, an infrastructure consultant, said the number of top earners was ‘excessive’ – especially as the building work has not even started yet.
Transport expert Christian Wolmar told The Times: ‘They are basically paying over the odds to get people to work there.
‘The project is not seen as well managed or attractive to people in the industry.’
Detailed pay figures of project workers have not previously been disclosed by HS2 because, under Cabinet Office transparency rules, it is only required to publish details of staff earning more than £150,000 each year.
Concerns have already been raised about the cost of HS2, which many experts fear will run over its £56billion budget.
One Cabinet Office assessment said it was ‘highly likely’ to overrun by 60 per cent, exceeding £80billion.
Another infrastructure expert Michael Byng warned the first phase, from London to Birmingham, which has a £24.3billion budget, would in reality cost £51.25billion – and that the entire scheme could top £100billion.
This was rejected by transport secretary Chris Grayling. The project is due to be completed by 2026.
Phase 2B will link Birmingham to Leeds and Manchester, while Phase 2A will link Manchester and Crewe and will be completed by 2033.
Last week it emerged that £4.1billion had already been spent on the line before construction has even started.
A spokesman for HS2 Ltd said: ‘In a highly technical project of the scale and complexity of HS2 it is necessary to employ the right level of expertise and knowledge to deliver the programme successfully.