John Prescott: HS2 costs will continue for decades
The soaring costs of the controversial HS2 project will continue for two decades, ex-deputy prime minister John Prescott has warned.
The High Speed Rail (London-West Midlands) Bill went through its second reading this week before the House of Lords.
Lord Prescott questioned whether the second part of the route linking to the north would actually happen claiming the escalating costs of the project would 'continue for the next years' further calling for an end to 'inequalities' in transport spending urging investment in northern infrastructure.
He said: "I hope my contribution is not seen to be negative. It's a different view. It's not the Government's view or the Opposition's view. It's a northern view – a different perspective of what we are doing with this investment in HS2."
But defending the sum which currently stands at £55.7 billion Lord Ahmed told peers the costs had never actually risen except for inflation.
He said: "With regards to the costs we are committed to delivering value for money.
"The budget has not gone up. It has simply been updated in line with inflation.
"HS2 is a major commitment of public money but it is an investment which Britain must make. We cannot afford not to."
He added: "HS2 is greater than the sum of its parts. It's not just a railway with fast trains. It's not just about capacity and connectivity. It's truly about potential. It's about creating opportunities. It is about what is needed to produce a better and brighter future for our country and economy, for connectivity across the UK."
"This is what is required if we are to deliver a better, more integrated Britain."
Lord Adonis, chairman of the National Infrastructure Commission, said upgrading existing routes was not an option claiming the last improvements to the West Coast mainline cost £9 billion, £1bn of which was compensation to train operators for disruption.
He said: "Upgrading a busy mainline railway is like conducting open heart surgery on a moving patient. It's hardly a compelling alternative to HS2 let alone a cheap one."
Lord Adonis added: "I am not aware of a single country that has introduced high-speed rail between its major cities and now thinks that this was a mistake.
"Of course there are major challenges ahead, not least to keep HS2 to time and to budget, but we are right to be taking HS2 forward."
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