Scrap ‘white elephant’ HS2 scheme, says David Davis
The HS2 rail scheme is a “white elephant” that should be scrapped, David Davis said.
Former Brexit secretary Mr Davis was joined by Labour MP and former transport minister John Spellar, who also demanded the project be axed.
Mr Davis (Haltemprice and Howden) pointed out just half the money being spent on HS2 would be enough to replace every train in the UK.
Speaking during transport questions in the Commons, he said: “The minister will be aware that he could replace and upgrade every piece of rolling stock in the country for less than half of the price of HS2.
“So why don’t we just cancel this white elephant and actually give something to the public they want?”
Rail minister Andrew Jones replied “actually we’re doing both” and defended the need for HS2.
He said: “We’re replacing the rolling stock in our country and delivering HS2, which is what we need to deliver more capacity in our rail market.”
Mr Spellar (Warley) also called on the minister to dump the “budget-busting” HS2 scheme and make small investments instead.
The Labour veteran said an “authoritative” transport study commissioned by the last government “clearly made the case against grand projects” and called for “widespread, incremental improvements”.
He said: “Wouldn’t he be better served to fund not only rolling stock but many other transport improvements now just by scrapping the ever more expensive, budget-busting HS2?”
Mr Jones insisted “it isn’t a question of one or the other” and said HS2 was “required to add capacity” as well as £48 billion of “maintenance and enhancements”.
Phase 1 of the £56 billion high-speed rail link will open between London and Birmingham in December 2026 before the railway is extended to Crewe, Manchester and Leeds.
HS2 trains are designed to operate at up to 225mph and also serve locations on the existing mainline network, such as Liverpool, Newcastle, Edinburgh and Glasgow.
But at a meeting with MPs last month, HS2 Ltd chief executive Mark Thurston said train speeds and frequency could be reduced in an effort to cut costs.