PM backs rail plan

HS2 gets green light and splits opinion on benefits

HS2 train

High speed trains do not have universal support

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced that the controversial HS2 high-speed rail link will be built, despite spiralling costs and claims it will cause irreversible environmental damage.

The first phase will complete the line connecting London and Birmingham, with a second phase extending to Manchester and Leeds.

After receiving a report by Douglas Oakervee looking into the project the Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced in the Commons that he would restore discipline to the project after estimated costs escalated from £56 billion to more than £100bn.

The completion date to Leeds has been put back to 2040, suggesting any further extension to Scotland is at least 30 years away.

Previous studies have shown that HS2 to the north of England will diminish the economies of areas such as northern Scotland and south west England.

However, Scotland may not miss out entirely. It will mean the project to build high speed trains at Longannet is more likely to go ahead. Spanish firm Talgo denied its plans for a 1,000 jobs plant on the former power station site were conditional on HS2, but it will not do the project any harm.

We are going to get this done, and to ensure we do so without further blow outs on either costs or schedule

– Boris Johnson

Mr Johnson told parliament: “The cabinet has given high speed rail the green signal.

“We are going to get this done, and to ensure we do so without further blow outs on either costs or schedule, we are taking decisive action to restore discipline to the programme.”

Mr Johnson  said he will appoint a full-time minister to oversee the project and criticised the HS2 company’s management of the scheme.

“I cannot say that HS2 limited has distinguished itself in the handling of local communities. The cost forecasts have exploded, but poor management to date has not detracted from the fundamental value of the project.”

The decision divided opinion between those who felt it was a bold and decisive statement about Britain’s future, and those who felt it was destructive of natural habitats. Some argued that it will not achieve the economic benefits that have been claimed.

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