(Reuters) - The budget for the High Speed 2 (HS2) rail project has increased by almost 10 billion pounds ($15.34 billion) because of the addition of a tunnel to plans, British transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin said on Wednesday.
McLoughlin told MPs that the new projected cost of the rail line linking London to the Midlands in central England had risen to 42.6 billion pounds from the original estimate of 33 billion pounds and included a contingency fund.
Britain's Department for Transport (DfT) said the first phase of the project would now cost 21.4 billion pounds with the second phase coming in at 21.2 billion pounds. This includes a 12.7 billion pounds "contingency fund" across the project.
The new budget includes a tunnel under the M6 motorway near Birmingham, the DfT said.
The first phase of the project, between London and Birmingham in central England, will start in 2017 and finish in 2026. The second phase, linking Manchester and Leeds in the north west of England is due to be completed by 2033.
However, McLoughlin said the final cost could of the project could be lower than the new estimate.
($1 = 0.6520 British pounds)
(Reporting by Rhys Jones in London; Editing by Marguerita Choy)