Train companies have welcomed news that the Government is to go ahead with the HS2 high-speed rail project but a taxpayers’ group described the scheme as a “white elephant”.
Transport Secretary Justine Greening is expected give the go-ahead to the scheme which, in its first phase, will run through picturesque Tory heartlands from London to Birmingham.
It is thought she will announce more measures to mitigate the worst affects of the line which will see passengers travelling at 225mph as the London to Birmingham journey time comes down to 49 minutes.
Michael Roberts, chief executive of the Association of Train Operating Companies, said: “HS2 is a vote of confidence in the railways and recognition of the vital role the industry has to play in supporting jobs and driving sustainable economic growth.
“HS2 would help to alleviate the capacity crunch on many of our major rail corridors and offer the prospect of shorter journey times between London and other major English cities.
“It would also allow for faster and more frequent local services in areas between London and Birmingham, as space is freed up on existing lines.
“By deploying the best of British design and engineering in the construction of the high-speed line in Kent (HS1), we struck the right balance between national and local interest. We can do the same again with HS2.”
Emma Boon, campaign director of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “High-speed rail (HSR) will leave generations of ordinary taxpayers paying for a train set that will mostly be used by the rich.
“We can’t afford £32 billion for this project right now. The business case is fundamentally flawed and the Government have vastly inflated the benefits of HSR to the regional economy while hiding the true costs of the project.