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High speed rail costs could spiral without agreement

Politicians have been told to get behind the high speed rail link or risk costs spiralling out of control.

The chairman of HS2, Sir David Higgins, has published his first report on the project since he took up the role at the beginning of the year.

He's warned the £50 billion cost of the project will escalate if it gets bogged down in parliamentary infighting.Sir David has recommended bringing forward construction of the West Midlands to Manchester stretch of the line from a start date of 2026.

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National

Transport Secretary defends controversial HS2 project

The Transport Secretary has defended the controversial HS2 high-speed rail project which has come under criticism from campaigners, Labour, and the public accounts committee.

Patrick McLoughlin said: "Any big major infrastructure project like this will led to criticism, of course it will. you're not going to build 350 miles of new railway and not have criticism.

"There is a sceptism with government ministers promising a glorious future which is some way a way down the line, unless we make these type of decisions now we don't get it."

Read: Govt 'fightback' over HS2 plans

Central

Campaign group: 'HS2 unnecessary waste of money'

A spokesman for HS2 Action Alliance said that the Government's "need for a political legacy" has overcome the need for an improvement of existing rail services. Richard Houghton said:

Much has been made of the potential disruptions of upgrades to the WCML but of course the major upgrades have been done and the required developments to release capacity would be tiny in comparison.

Indeed the disruption in converting a First Class carriage to a standard one, or from train lengthening is nothing compared to rebuilding Euston and having several platforms out of use for eight years that HS2 requires.

But this pragmatic unsexy approach doesn't fit with the need for a political legacy that is so clear in the Government's increasingly strident defence of this white elephant.

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National

McLoughlin: High-speed rail not some untested fantasy

The Department for Transport has been tweeting extracts from Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin's speech about the HS2 high-speed rail project:

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Patrick McLoughlin: people questioned the M25. Or thought we didn’t need the Jubilee line to Canary Wharf. These doubters were wrong. #HS2

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PMcL: high-speed rail is not some untested fantasy but a reality in many of the world’s leading and fastest growing economies. #HS2

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PMcL: the main reason we need #HS2 is as a heart bypass for the clogged arteries of our transport system.

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