Amid drastic cost over-runs & delays to Britain’s HS2 rail network, UK taxpayers now to fund new Turkish high-speed railway

Amid drastic cost over-runs & delays to Britain’s HS2 rail network, UK taxpayers now to fund new Turkish high-speed railway


HS2 was initially scheduled to open in 2026, but this has been delayed to between 2029 and 2033.

On July 12th HS2 Ltd’s chief executive, Mark Thurston (salary £617,300 pa,) announced his resignation amid major delays and cost pressures for the high-speed railway project.

Mark Thurston, 56, will leave his role in September after six-and-a-half years leading the Government-owned company.

Against the background of this highly expensive debacle, however, the much strapped UK taxpayer has another burden to shoulder, as the government announces £680m for a new high-speed electric railway in Turkey.

This funding, underwritten by the UK Export Finance (UKEF), the UK government’s export credit agency, has €781m of financing – equivalent to £680m – will enable Turkish contracting and investment company Rönesans Holding, originally founded in St Petersburg, Russia, in order to finish construction of a high-speed electrified railway connecting Mersin with the cities of Adana, Osmaniye and Gaziantep.

Although Rönesans Holding has no base as such in the UK, the funding is to be given on condition that UK-based exporters supply to the project.

In August 2019 HS2 became the subject of an investigation by the Serious Fraud Office after being handed a dossier of documents leaked by a whistleblower. Investigators were reportedly examining allegations of corruption in the way some contracts may have been awarded to suppliers. Will those same suppliers become beneficiaries of the £680 million that taxpayers will be handing over to Rönesans Holding suppliers?

Image: By Ross Hawkes from Lichfield, UK – Whittington Big Green Fair, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=64923002

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