The projected cost of HS2 has been revised up by almost £10 billion on the day that MPs began debating the second reading of the paving bill.

Budgets for both phase 1 and phase 2 have been increased – £21.4 billion and £21.2 billion respectively – taking the total potential cost of Britain’s high-speed network to £42.6 billion.

The latest cost estimate was set at around £33 billion.

The Transport Secretary told MPs that tomorrow (June 27) he would be writing to HS2’s chairman to explain the increase.

Addressing the Commons, Patrick McLoughlin said the actual target cost of phase 1 is £17 billion – taking into account recent changes – but that building in a contingency of £4.4 billion was the “responsible” thing to do.

HS2 swiftly issued a response, with Alison Munro, HS2 Ltd chief executive, saying: “Today the Secretary of State has announced that he will be issuing a new remit letter and we have been set a cost target for the route from London to Birmingham.  That provides a clear mandate not only to deliver  the infrastructure, but also to work with the towns and cities to create a true Engine for Growth.”

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