Campaigners have called on the Government to “pull the plug” on HS2 after a new report warned the cost of the project could top £106billion.
The Financial Times says leaked documents show concern over the rising cost of the high speed rail project, which will cut through parts of Lichfield and surrounding villages.
The reports suggest a recommended six month pause on the project to assess whether Phase 2 of the scheme goes ahead – and has also warned it is “hard” to say what economic benefits there will be from building the route.
Penny Gaines, chair of the Stop HS2 campaign group said the Government must now permanently shunt HS2 into the sidings.
“We’ve said for a long time that there are massive problems with and within HS2 Ltd, and even the Oakervee review, led by a former chair of HS2 Ltd can’t brush them all under the carpet.
“HS2 was supposed to solve the north south divide, but they don’t know if it will, it will need massive further investment in other transport to make it work, and is now expected to cost three times the original budget.
“The timescale for building it is long bust and the expected timetable will only run far fewer trains than originally proposed.
“Rather than tinkering with the proposals, the Government should pull the plug on the scheme and cancel HS2 in its entirety immediately.
“At the very least they should halt all HS2 enabling works immediately, pay for all the homes and businesses they have already taken and stop the huge environmental wrecking ball that it currently going on.”Penny Gaines, Stop HS2
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said last week that he expected a final decision on the future of the high speed rail project to be made “very soon”.
“An unaffordable white elephant”
Joe Rukin, campaign manager for Stop HS2, said the arguments against continuing the works were now impossible to ignore.
“It has been absolutely clear from the outset that HS2 is an unaffordable white elephant that has only got this far because it’s been lobbied for by those with a vested interest in building it, and those idiot politicians who have fallen for their spin and like petulant children keep demanding that it’s not ‘either or’, and that they want everything and the want it now.
“It has always been the case that more benefits can be delivered to more people, more quickly, more sustainably, for less money by investing in local transport infrastructure.
“But if HS2 goes ahead it will suck up the entire transport infrastructure budget for decades come with a massive carbon cost, so there is a small window of opportunity right now to make the informed choice and cancel HS2.”Joe Rukin, Stop HS2
“A shot in the arm for businesses and communities”
However, Richard Butler, the Confederation of British Industry’s regional director for the West Midlands, said the UK could not afford to delay the building of HS2 any further.
“Completing HS2 in its entirety will be a shot in the arm for businesses and communities across the country.
“As we enter a new decade it’s vital we lift our aspirations and commit to the West Midlands by using this project to unlock their economic potential.
The costs of not building HS2 are far higher in communities that have been left behind – with commuter trains filled to capacity and businesses struggling to grow.
“HS2 is key to tackling the productivity gap and helping the regions level up.
“Government should listen to the regional demand for HS2 and back it, build it, and benefit from it.”Richard Butler, CBI