THE budget for the much-criticised HS2 railway has increased by nearly £10bn to more than £40bn, the transport minister has said.

Patrick McLoughlin told MPs that the new projected cost of £42.6bn, up from £33bn, would include a large contingency fund.

He said the final cost could be lower than the new estimate, but said revising the figure was right.

The new high-speed railway line is intended to link London to Birmingham by 2026, with branches to Manchester and Leeds, via Sheffield and through Barnsley, planned by 2032.

The first phase budget is now £21.4bn, with £21.2bn budgeted for phase two. These figures include a contingency fund of £12.7bn across the scheme.