Latest Rail News

22.06.12

Greening attempts to dispel HS2 speculation

HS2 is “full steam ahead”, transport secretary Justine Greening has affirmed, following speculation that the project was “losing momentum” and Government support.

There was no HS2 legislation in this year’s Queens Speech, leading some to believe support for the project was wavering. The Government strongly denies these claims and states that legislation was always expected to be introduced in next year’s Queens Speech.

According to The Spectator magazine, an unnamed Tory minister has described the project as “effectively dead” due to a loss of Treasury support, adding that the only thing keeping it going is David Cameron’s backing.

But speaking to the Daily Telegraph, Greening said: “We are full steam ahead and there is no wavering in our determination to get on with High Speed 2. The Chancellor is four-square behind it and the Prime Minister is. George Osborne more than any other Chancellor in recent years has shown a real understanding of the importance in investing in infrastructure.”

She compared it to the grand Victorian railway projects, some of which faced scepticism at the time, but that we now look back on as “things of beauty”.

At Prime Minister’s Questions last Wednesday, David Cameron said: “I believe we should go ahead with HS2. I think it is very important for the economy of our country. I think it is very important we get on board this high speed rail revolution.”

Some saw this as less than a full-throated endorsement: “I believe we should” is hardly the same “we will”.

Penny Gaines, chair of Stop HS2, said: “We hope the Spectator is correct, and that Justine Greening is listening to the reservations of people outside the Department for Transport and paying attention to the wider issues surrounding the HS2 proposal.

“David Cameron should do the right thing, switch off the life support for HS2 and scrap the project as soon as possible.”

But Lucy James, director of the Campaign for High Speed Rail, said: “This claim is nonsense. It is deluded and 100% Tory party internecine politics.”

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