A Tory MP planning to vote against the government on HS2 today tells me there are 60 of his colleagues who would like to do the same.
Patrick McLoughlin will continue the Government's fightback over the high-speed rail project by unveiling - yet another - business case.
A previously unreleased research has shown that the High Speed 2 rail project is predicted to have a negative economic impact on some towns.
David Cameron has tasked the new boss of HS2 to find ways of cutting costs.
Sir David Higgins' first task in the job will be to report on lowering costs and maximising benefits, David Cameron will announce today.
Speaking at the annual Confederation of British Industry conference in London, the Prime Minister will claim dithering over HS2 will condemn Britain to the slow lane.
The scheme needs cross-party approval to continue but Labour's shadow chancellor threw the party's support into doubt earlier this year.
Ed Balls raised concerns over the spiraling costs, insisting he would not sign a "blank cheque".
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said the HS2 line was "not an expensive luxury". Outlining the Bill at third reading, he said:
This is the point when the debate starts moving from 'if' to 'when'. Just this week with the storms that hit the south and the east, we have seen how crucial our railways are to national life. When trains are crowded and disrupted, life for hard-working people gets more difficult. That's why the new north south line isn't some expensive luxury.
MPs have voted in favour of the HS2 bill with a majority of 350 to 34.
The bill will now pass to the House of Lords where it will be debated for a second time.
A Tory rebellion against a crucial High Speed 2 rail project bill is not expected to be enough to stop it from going through in the House of Commons later today.
When the legislation was last in the Commons, 21 Conservative backbenchers voted in favour of an amendment to quash the project.
If the rebels wish to defeat the bill tonight they will need to win significantly more support from all parties.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said business leaders in his Sheffield constituency were "absolutely appalled" by Labour's apparent "betrayal" of the north of England after cooling their support of the High Speed 2 rail project.
It just beggars belief for a party that constantly parades itself as the authentic voice of the north of England is now prepared to turn its back on the businesses, the communities, the families which I think all the evidence shows will benefit disproportionately from an investment in a high speed north-south railway link.
– Nick Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister
I just think it is miserable, it's pathetic that an idea which we inherited from Labour and in all good faith took forward because we thought, given they were the architects of the idea they might support it, that when it becomes politically convenient to play games with it, they start playing games with it.
The High Speed 2 rail project looks set to clear a major obstacle in the House of Commons today despite an expected rebellion from Tory MPs.
Crucial legislation, which will allow the Government to spend money on planning the route and buying up property along the proposed track, is expected to be approved.
However, Labour have recently cooled on the £50 billion scheme with shadow chancellor Ed Balls saying he is not prepared to write a blank cheque for the project.
This led to fears that the scheme- which will create a high speed railway linking London to the north of England - could collapse without the support of Labour because a number of Tory MPs are angry the line is being built through their constituencies in the Home Counties.
Labour have said they will support the project but the party's leadership has imposed a one-line whip on tonight's vote, which will give their MPs opposed to the plans room to vote against the Government.
The Government has robustly defended the case for a High Speed rail line despite the publication of a new report suggesting the estimated economic benefits had reduced.
The expected benefit-cost ratio of the HS2 was revised down in the report by the scheme's promoters.
However, the Transport Secretary said the controversial scheme would become the new "backbone of Britain".
Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls has urged the Government to "get a grip" on the costs of the HS2 rail scheme to ensure the project was value for money.
Mr Balls stressed that Labour had supported HS2 "in the past", but said it was vital that costs "stacked up".
An official report released today revealed that the estimated economic benefits of the £50 billion project are dwindling.
Mr Balls said: "We have supported HS2 and there is a case for new investment in a new North-South rail link. But when you have got a project of this scale - £50 billion potentially - you have got to know that it is really value for money.
"In the last couple of years the Government has been all over the place and the costs have got out of control. So my message to David Cameron and George Osborne is 'Get a grip - you shouldn't be cheerleaders, you should be taking a hard-headed look at costs and benefits'."
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has backed the controversial HS2 scheme, insisting it will become the new "backbone of Britain".
Opponents of the scheme, who believe the project is a waste of money and should be scrapped, seized on an official report published today which revealed that the estimated economic benefits of the £50 billion project are falling.
However, Mr McLoughlin argued the line was not "some expensive add-on" but a scheme which would help people with their daily lives.
Speaking at the National Rail Conference in Manchester, the MP said:
"As the impact of this week’s storm in the south shows, when trains are crowded and disrupted, life for hardworking people gets more difficult. That’s why the new north-south line isn’t some expensive add on. It’s about helping people with their daily lives.
"It’s needed to help commuters who now have to stand - and will soon have to queue - to get on their trains. It’s needed to help the cities of the north which want to compete on equal terms with London. It will be the new backbone of Britain."