Labour has threatened to drop its support for HS2 if the cost estimate rises one more time.
Speaking to the Sunday Times, Shadow transport secretary Marie Eagle imposed a red line of £50 billion for the total cost of HS2, stating: ” I’m not willing to see this project start draining money from other vital rail routes , it’s got to be delivered within the current budget.”
According to a YouGov poll support for HS2 has dipped within the last 18 months, with Labour voters being more sceptical about the project compared to Conservative and Liberal democrat supporters.
This latest posturing by the Labour party is seen by some within the party who oppose HS2 as offering a way out that could be achieved by scrapping the scheme and unveiling a list of alternative rail enhancements without looking spendthrift with regard to the nation’s finances.
Business leaders were quick to dismiss concerns over rising costs by saying that not only would HS2 free up capacity on the West Coast main Line, but help reverse the brain drain to London. Birmingham Airport is also keen for HS2 to go ahead, saying that it will its boost passenger figures from 27 million to 70 million.
MD of MG Motor UK William Wang says that a Birmingham to Shanghai air route alone would enable hundreds of business flights a year to operate, encouraging inward investment.
Report by Jonathan Webb