UK government has not talked to China about building HS2 rail project: minister

LONDON (Reuters) – The British government has not talked to China about helping build High Speed 2, the major rail project given the green light last week despite being billions of pounds over budget, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said on Sunday.

A report in the Financial Times said China had offered to build the rail line, known as HS2, in five years and for less money.

“I’ve certainly had no advice on the subject, obviously I will be asking to see what the communication has been,” Shapps told the BBC’s Andrew Marr on Sunday.

“This has not been a discussion with the department, it’s been a discussion with HS2 as I understand it.”

Shapps said he wanted to push ahead with major projects more quickly.

“There are things we can do to speed this up and I want to learn from everyone but I also want to make sure the British ingenuity and skills and apprentices and all the rest of it come through on this massive project,” he said.

Shapps also told Marr the resignation of finance minister, or chancellor, Sajid Javid on Thursday could result in a delay to the budget planned for March 11.

“This is a matter for the new chancellor Rishi (Sunak),” he said.

“I don’t think we’ve said it will definitely go ahead on the same date that was mentioned before in March, that will be a matter for the chancellor.”

(Reporting by Paul Sandle; Editing by Susan Fenton)