ANGER AT MINISTER’S STATEMENT
Reaction to secretary
THE TRANSPORT secretary has come under fire for suggesting that “the argument has been won” on HS2.
Speaking on Monday this week, Patrick McLoughlin used his first speech since being reelected to outline the government’s plans to plough ahead with HS2, saying that the general election result proved to be a vote of confidence in the controversial rail line.
However, protesters against the plans say that people who will be adversely affected by the project should not lose at heart at Mr McLoughlin’s comments.
Hilary Wharf, director of the HS2 Action Alliance, said: “It’s pure politics. Of course the government are going to push ahead with their plans for HS2. They will do that until something stops it.
“Nothing whatsoever has changed from our point of view. It’s very much business as usual.”
She added: “I found the comments to be extremely surprising, as nothing has changed. In fact, the costs of HS2 seem to be increasing all the time.”
Mr McLoughlin spoke of the “power of transport to change things” and confirmed the government’s plans to press on with HS2, which will eventually link London, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds.
He also confirmed that the government is moving ahead with plans for eastwest high speed rail links and plans to invest £13bn in transforming transport in the north during this Parliament. Mr McLoughlin made the speech at Leeds Civic Hall and said: “If you think it is significant that I am making it here, in Leeds, on the eastern leg of HS2, and in the north, then you would be absolutely right. “And if you think that is a sign of intent that my themes today are growth, infrastructure and HS2, you would also be right. “Nothing is more important to this government than a healthy economy which benefits all working people. “It means re-balancing our economy and building the northern power house. We will not waste a moment getting on with the task.” He added: “The general election result was a massive vote of confidence in favour of HS2. “So the argument has been won. HS2 will be built, the full ‘Y’ network, from London to Birmingham and Birmingham to Manchester and Leeds, with construction starting in just two years. HS2 will change the transport architecture of the north. But it will also change the economic architecture.”
SPEECH: Transport minister Patrick McLoughlin