1. ITV Report

Osborne urges China to invest in HS2

Chancellor George Osborne has urged Chinese investors to bid for the seven HS2 construction contracts between London and Birmingham, worth a total of £11.8 billion.

Chancellor George Osborne in the Chinese city of Chengdu Credit: PA Images

They cover cover bridges, tunnels and earthworks on the first phase of the controversial link between the capital, the West Midlands and the North.

Mr Osborne is in the Chinese city of Chengdu during a five-day tour designed to strengthen Britain's economic links with the east Asian giant and win trade and investment for the UK.

The HS2 announcement comes shortly after Mr Osborne took a trip on one of the many high-speed lines that have been laid around China in recent years, from Urumqi to Turpan in remote Xinjiang province.

This Government is committed to rebalancing our economy and building a Northern Powerhouse, and improving transport links. Launching HS2 is key to supporting long-term economic growth across the North and Midlands.

We are truly entering a golden era of co-operation between our two countries, and it's crucial that businesses and communities from across the UK feel the full benefit of forging closer economic links with China."

– Chancellor George Osborne

But anti-HS2 campaigners have attacked George Osborne's decision to launch the bidding process to build the high speed rail line.

They believe it is too early and he should not initially encourage China to pitch for the £11.8 billion contracts.

HS2 Action Alliance said the announcement confirmed that it is a "political project rather than a transport project."

The Chinese project's cost overruns, lack of sustainable growth and inability to achieve the predicted passenger numbers should ring very loud alarm bells for Mr Osborne."

– Joe Rukin, campaign manager, Stop HS2

The £43 billion proposed scheme has attracted criticism because of its cost and its impact on the environment and local communities.