- 9 updates
The Stop HS2 organisation has criticised the Government's claim that HS2 is the only option to remedy over-capacity railways.
Penny Gaines, chair of the organisation, said the line will not open until 2027 and in the meantime will cause years of disruption.
The managing director of Newtork Rail's network operations told the Today programme that any attempt to upgrade existing lines, rather than implement the HS2, would inevitably lead to "very heavy disruption" to services.
An alternative to the HS2 would result in 14 years of weekend rail closures that would "cripple" the three main routes to the north, according to a Government commissioned report out today.
The report by Network Rail and transport consultant Atkins warns that an alternative of improving existing lines would result in 2,770 weekend closures of theEast Coast Mainline, Midland Mainline and West Coast Mainline, in order to complete 144,000 hours of work.
Shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umunna said writing a "blank cheque" for the HS2 project would be irresponsible:
Bob Crow, general secretary of transport union RMT, has described the latest HS2 developments as "political posturing" designed as a smokescreen to delay investment in Britain's existing railways.
Deputy Labour leader Harriet Harman has played down comments by Ed Balls comparing the HS2 project to the Millenium Dome.
Speaking on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show, Ms Harman said Mr Balls did not volunteer the comparison during an interview with a Mail on Sunday journalist.
The shadow chancellor told the newspaper the Dome was a mistake, adding "I think you should learn from your mistakes".
Ms Harman said: "We absolutely support better north-south lines, we are in favour of rail infrastructure for commuters and also for long-distance travellers and freight but not at any cost and what Ed Balls is saying is we have to keep a strong eye on the costs as well as on the benefits."
Treasury Chief Secretary Danny Alexander has told He told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show he is "very confident" that the Government will be able to complete the HS2 project for less than the allocated budget of £42.6 billion.
The Labour MP for Luton North, Kelvin Hopkins has joined hauliers and leading supermarket groups and to draw up plans to reopen the former Great Central line instead of committing to HS2, according to the Telegraph.
The paper claims he has handed his plans to individuals including Mr Balls and is understood to have received a positive response.
For more on the Great Central line visit this archive.
Senior Labour figures have been secretly considering an alternative route to the HS2 rail project, according to a report in The Sunday Telegraph. It appears the shadow chancellor, Ed Balls, has been provided with a rival £6 billion plan.
The option would reopen a closed line from the 1960s from London to Nottingham, linking Leeds with Manchester.
Cross-party support for the £42billion scheme will be key to the success of HS2, taking into account the long-term funding commitment before trains begin running in 2026.