The controversial HS2 railway is "essential for the UK", with pros far outweighing cons, MPs have said. The transport committee urged the Government to consider building the two phases of the rail link from London to the north, at the same time.
The report into the viability of HS2 is a "cheerleading whitewash" and only heard from "people who support" the London to Birmingham rail link, according to activists.
Campaign manager for the Stop HS2 group Joe Rukin said:
Unlike the public accounts committee and treasury committee hearings on HS2, it was clear that this inquiry was going to be a cheerleading whitewash when the transport committee only called people who support HS2 to give evidence.
Despite the official cost of HS2 standing at £50 billion, the committee want to pretend it is £28 billion, even though they said it would be £34 billion in 2011.
In saying this and telling the DfT they should abandon their standard assessments to improve the case for HS2, they are effectively ordering the Government to 'spin harder' on HS2.
HS2 will deliver "the step change in capacity" needed to support growing demand from both passengers and freight, according to the head of the transport committee.
Chairwoman Louise Ellman said if taxpayers were to reap the full benefits of HS2, it was "vital" links were improved between regular and high-speed rail networks.
We remain confident that construction of a new high speed line is the only way to deliver the step change in capacity on the West Coast Main Line needed to accommodate long-term demand for both passengers and rail freight.
If we are to spread the benefits from HS2 as widely as possible, it is vital we improve links between the conventional and high-speed networks and bring forward projects to speed up journey times on the conventional network.
– transport select committee chairwoman louise ellman
A group of MPs are "convinced" the controversial HS2 link between London and the north is "justified" and urged the Government to consider building the second and first phases together.
Abandoning the project "significantly outweigh the risks" of building it, as the high-speed rail link is "essential for the UK", according to the transport committee.
Phase one, from London to Birmingham via the Chilterns, is due for completion in 2026, with a second Y-shaped section from Birmingham to north-west and north-east England due to be finished in 2032/33.
In its report, the committee said: "Many important local issues will be debated and resolved by the (HS2) hybrid bill committee and there will be detailed debates about many aspects of the project.
"However, we are convinced that it is essential for the UK for HS2 to go ahead, and to do so as a project which has the backing of all three major political parties."