HS2 is ‘an essential heart bypass for the clogged arteries of our transport system’, the minister in charge of the controversial £43 billion project has said.
Speaking at the Conservative party conference in Manchester this morning, Patrick McLoughlin said he is ‘proud’ to support the scheme, which would cut through Aylesbury Vale.
The transport secretary said HS2 is needed to deal with congestion problems on the existing rail network, claiming the line will provide the same capacity as a 12-lane motorway.
Mr McLoughlin also said he is tired of the ‘moaning London commentators’ who support the new cross-London service Crossrail but have doubts over HS2, the budget for which soared by £10bn this summer.
The minister also referred to the scheme as the ‘North South line’, which Stop HS2 said was because the name HS2 ‘has become too toxic’.
Stop HS2 chairwoman Penny Gaines said: “The big question is not whether HS2 can be built to any arbitrary budget or by any specific date.
“The big question is whether HS2 is the right thing to build and the evidence is that it is not.
“We call on the Conservative ministers to step back and look closely at HS2, and then cancel it.”
At the Labour party conference last week, shadow chancellor Ed Balls questioned whether HS2 ‘was the best way to spend £50bn’ and said there would be no blank cheque for the line.