The government has launched its latest defence of the controversial £42.6 billion HS2 rail project.
The Department for Transport released new evidence today (October 29) which shows the predicted benefits of the new rail line and the impact of alternative schemes to increase rail capacity between London, the Midlands and the north.
Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “We need a radical solution and HS2 is it. A patch and mend job will not do – the only option is a new north-south railway.
“HS2 brings massive benefits to the north, is great for commuters and the alternatives just don’t stack up.
“Now is the time to be bold and deliver a world class railway which Britain deserves and can truly be proud of. Future generations will not forgive us if we fail to take this opportunity.”
Prime Minister David Cameron has admitted that HS2 project could be under threat if Labour withdraws its backing from the project.
The latest report said that by 2026, when the first phase of HS2 is due to begin operating between London and Birmingham, around 40 per cent of passengers on the route will have to stand because of overcrowding.
It added that the alternative rail schemes to HS2 would result in up to 14 years of weekend closures on existing lines and “deliver only a fraction of the additional capacity”.
“The East Coast, West Coast and Midland Main Lines can only carry a finite number of trains each day before they become clogged. HS2 will add 18 trains an hour between Manchester, Leeds and London and will allow significantly more freight onto the wider rail network,” said the report.