Shropshire Star comment: Get us out of this HS2 limbo land
The political turmoil engulfing Britain has cast a long shadow across numerous policy areas – none more so than transport.
The Government cannot seem to make up its mind on crucial issues such as airport expansion, road networks and the dire state of the country’s rail services.
However, one area where ministers insist they are 100 per cent committed is the controversial high speed rail project.
Theresa May, in a rare moment away from her Brexit nightmare, reiterated her desire to see HS2 completed in its entirety, stressing the key role it will play in Britain’s economic prosperity.
Other political heavyweights, such as West Midlands Mayor Andy Street, continue to extol the line’s virtues, saying the prize at the end will be worth the huge investment.
But it is the likely cost of HS2 that is providing opponents with ample ammunition to rail against it.
While ministers insist it will be completed on budget and on time, quite frankly, few believe them.
- HS2 threatened due to 'out of control' costs, report warns
- Special report: Is it the end of the HS2 line?
- HS2: Campaigners fear construction traffic for phase two
A cost of £56 billion is already way above initial estimates when the project was first planned.
The likelihood of this being the final figure in 15 years time – should the line be completed in full, that is – appears to be remote.
Today’s report from the Lords Economic Affairs Committee will undoubtedly lead to more calls for part of the project to be scrapped.
While the first phase from London to Birmingham is probably too far advanced to be stopped, the rest of the line heading north may well be in jeopardy. As the committee points out, the Government has failed to make a sound economic case for HS2.
And while Amber Rudd claims any potential Tory leader must back the line, the very opposite might just be true. In a Conservative administration that specialises in mixed messages, it would be no surprise if the next Prime Minister makes ditching HS2 a priority.
Meanwhile, in villages such as Woore, the disruption caused by HS2 has left people’s lives in a state of limbo.
At some point in the very near future, a decision is going to have to be made on HS2 as to whether the benefits outweigh its astronomical cost.