BTN Europe presents an overview of business travel and MICE predictions for this year
Transport minister Robert Goodwill has insisted that “the debate about whether to build HS2 is over” despite continuing opposition to the £50 billion rail project.
Goodwill said that the HS2 bill was “making steady progress” through the House of Commons and legislation was “on track” to be completed by the end of 2016.
“The debate about whether to build HS2 is over - now it’s time to discuss the detail of delivery and how cities should plan to benefit from the new HS2 network,” Goodwill told delegates at the High Speed Rail 2015 conference in London yesterday (September 16).
The new Conservative government promised in its general election manifesto that it would go ahead with the HS2 project, which will see a new high-speed rail link built initially between London’s Euston station to Birmingham by 2026, before extending northwards in its second phase of development.
“Last week we announced our plans for Euston, plans that will reduce disruption and allow us to turn the station into a thriving transport and community hub,” added Goodwill.
“We will also announce how we will take forward HS2’s northern sections, from Birmingham to Manchester and Leeds.”
The government says that the first phase of HS2 will cut journey times from London to Birmingham from 81 minutes to 49 minutes.
Despite Goodwill’s comments, HS2 continues to be dogged by criticism with members of the House of Lords hitting out at the cost of the project during a debate yesterday.
Labour peer Lord Hollick said: “Much of the evidence presented to justify HS2 is either defective, unconvincing or out of date, and the process of oversight falls short of what is required for a major infrastructure project relying on substantial taxpayer money.”
Lord Vinson, a Conservative member of the House of Lords, added that research from the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) suggested that the overall cost of HS2 would be “at least £80 billion” because of “the enormous add-ons that are bound to happen”.