Construction started on the U.K.’s London–Birmingham high speed railroad only last month, and already project costs have risen by more than $1 billion. Additional pandemic-related costs will be disclosed next spring.

The discovery of greater than expected asbestos and other snags in preparatory work are expected to add $520 million to the project’s cost. A similar hike is forecast for work at the main London terminal at Euston.

The increases are on top of the 85% hike over initial estimates made three years ago when the main contracts were provisionally awarded.

The new estimates by the project company HS2 Ltd. emerged in the twice yearly progress report delivered to parliament by Andrew Stephenson, the government minister responsible for the project.

These hikes will be covered by the $6.9-billion contingency sum included in the project company's $52.5 billion projected outturn cost at 2019 prices.

So far, the company has spent $12.5 billion and contracted an additional $15 billion of work. Another $18.1 billion of work has yet to be procured.