UK & World News
Vince Cable Wants HS2 Rail Link Built Faster
Vince Cable has called for the controversial HS2 high-speed rail link to be constructed faster, saying it could help close an economic gap between the north and south of England.
In an interview with The Observer the Liberal Democrat Business Secretary said there was clearly a "compelling argument" for speeding up the project.
"Creating jobs outside London, and closing the gap between north and south, has been one of this Government's top priorities," he said.
"On every visit I make to the north of England, I've heard businesses and council leaders make a compelling case for getting to the north more quickly by accelerating parts of the HS2 build.
"That would ensure the economic benefits can be shared sooner by everyone around the country and deserves serious consideration by government."
Mr Cable's comments come a day before HS2 chairman Sir David Higgins will outline his plan for an accelerated construction timetable. He also aims to reduce the cost of the £50-million project to connect London to the Midlands and the North.
He is expected to call for cross-party support for the plan.
Currently the scheme's first phase, which will see a new line connect London to Birmingham, is set for completion 2026.
The second phase will take the line in a Y-shape to the North West and North East.
That is due to be completed around 2032/33.
Sir David is expected to suggest that building work on both phases should be started at the same time.
It is thought he will also propose a brand new station at London Euston.
Longstanding plans to build the new high-speed rail link have proved highly controversial.
Opposition comes mainly from environmentalists and residents who live on the line's planned route.
Last month judges threw out a Supreme Court challenge brought by objectors who claimed Government ministers had failed to adequately consider possible alternatives.
Some Government ministers have also voiced concerns.
Last week shadow chancellor Ed Balls raised HS2's projected budget, saying Sir David needed to show that costs "have come down markedly."