The findings of a leaked review that recommends HS2 is delivered in full has been welcomed.

The much-anticipated Oakervee review, which has been leaked to The Times, says the controversial high speed railway line needs to be completed due to the economic boost in would give to the North.

According to The Times, the report says the impact of quicker journey times and improved connections between city regions, particularly in the North and the Midlands, outweigh the potential costs of HS2.

It says that without HS2 “large ticket price rises” would be required during peak travel times on existing lines to overcome overcrowding. According to The Times the report also highlights the lack of an alternative “shovel ready” alternative, such as improvements to the existing rail infrastructure.

Despite its recommendation that the Government commits to HS2, the report concedes that it will not be delivered inside the projects initial budget of £56 billion, estimating that the final bill would be around £88bn, if not more.

It also criticises the procurement strategy for the first phase of the project, linking London to Birmingham, says The Times.

The findings have been welcomed in the region, amid growing speculation that HS2 may be stopped dead in its tracks at Birmingham due to spiralling costs.

Sources close to the Oakerview review had previously told ITV News that it would recommend downgrading the western stretch of the line and completely scrap the eastern connection between Birmingham and Leeds.

This led to business organisations including Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, the Northern Powerhouse Partnership (NPP) and the CBI, along with Transport for the North, and politicians including Carlisle City Council leader, Councillor John Mallinson, and the city’s Conservative candidate John Stevenson to ramp up calls for the Government to hold firm on the plans, with many calling for a stop in Carlisle.

They believe HS2 is crucial to “turbo charging” the region’s economy, boosting productivity, and rebalancing the UK economy.

Henri Murison, director of the NPP said: “The Northern Powerhouse Independent Review on HS2 said that there were no identified credible alternatives to HS2 in order to deliver the same capacity, and that it has the potential to unlock greater growth in North and Midlands.

“It is welcome that their recommendations are mirrored by the Government’s own Oakervee Review.”

“Now Oakervee’s recommendations are being debated in public, the time for being equivocal on this issue has run out. “

According to The Times, the Oakervee Review was shown to members of the review panel at the end of last week.

It had been due to be submitted to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps – and shared with Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chancellor Savid Javid – to inform the Government’s next steps for the project back in October.

However, the publication has been pushed back due to December’s General Election, with Whitehall now in the grip of a six-week period of purdah, which restricts the Government in making politically sensitive announcements.

Its means that the review will not be published until the General Election is done and dusted, with Mr Johnson understood to be considering publishing it in the New Year if he holds on to power.

HS2 has become a key election issue in the North, with the NPP challenging political parties to pledge their commitment to the project, along with the £39bn Northern Powerhouse Rail scheme, which aims to connect cities across the region and will boost connections and capacity in Cumbria, claim its backers.

In the meantime, criticism of HS2 also continues to grow.

According to The Times article, the review’s deputy chairman Lord Berkeley – a Labour peer – is to write his own report questioning the findings.

Free market think tank the Adam Smith Institute has branded HS2 “a massive white elephant” and instead called on investments to be made on the existing railway network, including northern sections of the West Coast Mainline.

A similar approach has also been put forward by the Taxpayer’s Alliance, which recommends scrapping HS2 and using its budget to fund 28 alternative projects which, locally, included a £30m upgrade of the Carlisle to Settle line and a £110m reinstatement of the Keswick to Penrith railway.