David Cameron has reiterated his support for the HS2 rail line at today’s Conservative party conference.
Speaking before delegates in Manchester. the Prime Minister said the £42bn line, which would cut through Aylesbury Vale, will bridge the north-south divide and compared it to important existing infrastructure such as the M1 and Severn bridge.
But opponents said the line is Mr Cameron’s ‘personal vanity project’ and will actually ‘suck’ more money into London.
Mr Cameron said: “This country – our country – has been too London-centric for far too long and that’s why we neeed the north-south rail line.
“The fact is this: the west coast mainline is almost full. We have to build a new railway and the choice is between another old style Victorian one or a high speed one.
“Just imagine if someone had said no, you can’t build the M1 or the Severn Bridge, imagine how that would hobbling our economy today.
“HS2 is about bringing the north and the south together in the national endeavour. Because think how much more we could do with the pistons firing in all parts of our economy.”
In response, Stop HS2 campaign manager, Joe Rukin said: “We can’t understand why David Cameron is staking so much on HS2 when so many in the general public and his party have seen it is a white elephant, it is going to prove to be a gross miscalculation.
“Cameron said HS2 will help the economy from being too London-centric.
“All the international evidence shows that this assumption is wrong. It’s simply a false excuse to justify his personal vanity project.
“When Cameron talks about the Victorian railway, you can’t help thinking he has got it in his head that he thinks Brunel and HS2 is his legacy, which is just scary.
“The Victorians used cutting edge technology, but this Government is proposing a 19th Century solution for a 21st Century economy, and that is just wrong.
“If he wants to truly regenerate the Midlands and north, he should think about the fact that in Victorian times most people walked to work because there were jobs in their communities and try and emulate that.”
“David Cameron has said that cancelling HS2 will be ‘betraying the north’, but he is betraying the north by promoting a project which will clearly suck more economic activity to London.
“That is why, after the name ‘HS2’ has become too toxic, that they are calling it a north-south railway, because it’s about getting from the north to the south.”
“The Government is ignoring better, cheaper alternative to deal with capacity and is content to punt this lie that the West Coast Mainline is full. We are all for infrastructure investment, but it has to be the right project. HS2 is simply not the right project.”
“Whenever there is any criticism of HS2, the Government put their fingers in their ears. They have now been there so long now that it seems they must be touching in the middle!”