Latest Rail News

24.09.13

Balls’ policy shift on HS2 ‘cheap shot’

Labour MPs have criticised shadow chancellor Ed Balls’ suggestion that the £50bn earmarked for HS2 could be better spent elsewhere.

Supporters of the line raised concerns after Balls’ speech to the party’s annual conference warned that Labour would review the line if it won the next general election. Balls’ comments come as controversy around the project grows – but cross-party support is essential to safeguard HS2.

Labour leader of Manchester City Council, Sir Richard Leese, called it “a cheap shot”.

He said: “It is not unreasonable to ask whether £50bn could be spent better, although I assume Ed is going to ask the same question of the other £1.2trillion the Government is likely to be investing over the next 20 years.

“However, having asked the question, he will very rapidly come to the conclusion that unless we want an increasingly disconnected North and Midlands slowly grinding to a halt from the beginning of the next decade, the capacity that HS2 brings is essential to our economic future and a new network is the only way to provide that capacity.

“There are better ways for the shadow chancellor to demonstrate fiscal responsibility than take a cheap shot at HS2.”

And Manchester Central MP Lucy Powell said the economic case for HS2 was “overwhelming”. She added: We have to stand firm and maintain our support for this critical project.”

It was former Labour transport secretary Lord Adonis whose work got the idea for HS2 going. Following Balls’ comments, he told the New Statesman the shadow chancellor had “raised the bar” for the project.

He said: “The current contingency fund of £14bn is too large and the cost needs to come down when the bill has its second reading in February/March. It's no surprise opinion is turning against it if people fear it will end up costing £100bn.”

And John Armitt, Labour infrastructure tzar, told BBC Radio 4 yesterday he would be “very disappointed” if Balls scrapped HS2 for “short term political considerations”.

Tell us what you think – have your say below, or email us directly at opinion@railtechnologymagazine.com

(Photo showing Ed Balls addressing the Labour conference: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire)

Comments

There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

 

related

Rail industry Focus

View all News

Comment

The challenge of completing Crossrail

05/07/2019The challenge of completing Crossrail

With a new plan now in place to deliver Crossrail, Hedley Ayres, National Audit Office manager, major projects and programmes, takes a look at ho... more >
Preparing the industry to deliver trains for the future

04/07/2019Preparing the industry to deliver trains for the future

The move to decarbonise the rail network involves shifting to cleaner modes of traction by 2050. David Clarke, technical director at the Railway ... more >

'the sleepers' blog

Network Rail’s Anna-Jane Hunter on, NPR, TRU, HS2 and supply chain opportunities

12/08/2019Network Rail’s Anna-Jane Hunter on, NPR, TRU, HS2 and supply chain opportunities

Anna- Jane Hunter, is a ‘proud northerner’ and is passionate about continuing the investment and success story of rail across the North.  She plays a key role in working with government and northern leaders to enable the network... more >
read more blog posts from 'the sleeper' >

Interviews

Andrew Haines, CE of Network Rail, tells BBC News his organisation could issue future rail franchises

24/06/2019Andrew Haines, CE of Network Rail, tells BBC News his organisation could issue future rail franchises

Andrew Haines, the Chief Executive of Network Rail, has told the Today programme on Radio 4's BBC’s flagship news programme that he would not rule out his organisation issuing future r... more >
Malcolm Holmes, executive director of West Midlands Rail Executive, announced as TCR Midlands speaker in Birmingham

24/06/2019Malcolm Holmes, executive director of West Midlands Rail Executive, announced as TCR Midlands speaker in Birmingham

Ahead of his appearance, Malcolm Holmes spoke with Rail Technology Magazine about what key leaders in the industry were doing to improve rail in the Midlands. He said: “It’s very... more >