Transport secretary reveals work towards reducing contingency for rail scheme.
3pm: HS2 could generate £15bn a year in economic output, according to research published today.
The HS2 Ltd-commissioned study by KPMG said the benefits of the rail link would be seen across the UK, but strongest in the North and Midlands.
It was published as transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin declared HS2 could be delivered for less than its £50bn budget [see 12pm].
McLoughlin added: “I am pleased to publish the findings of a new report from economists at KPMG.
“It addresses that vital question: will HS2 create jobs and growth in the North and Midlands, where they are needed most? The answer is absolutely clear: Yes.”
2pm: Structural Steel group Billington Holdings saw a return to profit in the first half of this year, it has revealed.
Billington made a pre-tax profit of £252M in the six months to 30 June 2013, compared with a £200M loss in the same period last year.
However, revenue was down from £20.1M to £17.2M over the same period.
The firm has worked on structures across the infrastructure sector, including airports and rail stations.
1.30pm: Network Rail has been fined £125,000 following the death of one of its track maintenance workers.
The rail infrastructure operating body was also ordered to pay £85,000 costs in a case heard at Chelmsford Crown Court following prosecution by the Office of Rail Regulation.
Malcolm Slater suffered serious injuries on 11 June 2008 when a mobile platform he was working from fell 15 feet to the ground at Margaretting in Essex. Slater later died.
An ORR investigation found that Network Rail had not trained staff on working from the platform, and did not identify that an overload alarm had been switched off.
12pm: Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin has insisted the High Speed 2 project can be delivered under its £50bn budget.
The proposed rail link between London and the North came in for renewed criticism this week as the Public Accounts Committee said the government had not proved it was worth its “spiralling” price tag.
But McLoughlin told an audience at the Institution of Civil Engineers this morning: “The budget [for building the infrastructure] is £42.6bn – not £70bn, £80bn or £100bn.
“This includes a contingency of £14.4bn that we are determined to bear down on. We are working with business experts at Saïd Business School on the scope for reducing the contingency.”
McLoughlin hit back at recent scepticism over the scheme, saying it was needed “as a heart bypass for the clogged arteries of our transport system”.