By Daniel Hunter

A group of MPs have questioned the value for money of the HS2 project.

The Commons Public Accounts Committee said it was "sceptical" about the cost which is expected to reach £50bn. The Committee also said it includes a "generous contingency" that could be used to mask costs.

The contingency gives a 95% assurance that the project will be completed on budget. But the committee said: "We are concerned that this will simply be used to mask cost overspends, rather than valid calls on contingency funds."

A spokesperson for the Department for Transport said the government was "fully focused on keeping costs down", adding that the high-speed link between London and Birmingham will bring a "transformational effect".

The MPs in particular raised questions over the government's ability to deliver the link on budget and on time.

The first phase, the link between London and Birmingham, is due to be completed by 2026. It will then move onto a second phase, creating links to Manchester and Yorkshire.

The Committee also questioned the government's backing of the HS3 project. Labour MP Margaret Hodge, who chairs the committee, said the government hadn't assessed the possibility of a HS3 before approving HS2.

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