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Maria Eagle MP, Labour's Shadow Transport Secretary, in advance of the expected statement to Parliament on HS2, said:
"This is an important milestone in the delivery of the high speed rail link between London, Birmingham, Manchester, Sheffield and Leeds first proposed by Labour in government. As the latest comprehensive analysis of the alternatives has demonstrated, this is clearly the best way to address the worsening capacity issues on our main rail lines while cutting journey times between our cities. HS2 will now be taken forward on a cross party basis to give it the certainty a major project of this kind needs.
"The Tory-led Government's refusal to seek parliamentary approval to build the entire high speed rail line between London, Manchester and Leeds raises real doubts about their commitment to enabling the north of England to benefit from less overcrowding and shorter journey times. Unless they agree to our proposal to legislate for the entire route in one piece of legislation then any commitment to build the whole route will be seen as an empty promise. At the very least they should accept the Transport Select Committee’s proposal to include a clear commitment to the second phase on the face of the initial bill."
In responding to the Government’s expected approval for the scheme, Maria Eagle MP will also call on assurances over the cost of using the new high speed line:
"It's now time to move the debate on from the affordability of building the line to the affordability of using it once it opens. We need a high speed network that is affordable for the many not the few, not a 'rich man's toy' as it was described by the previous Transport Secretary. As passengers using HS1 know to their cost, there is a clear premium for using the high speed service and we need a proper debate about the kind of high speed network we want to see in this country."
On the expected additional measures to protect the Chilterns, Maria Eagle MP said:
"The best way to protect the most sensitive parts of the Chilterns would be to adopt Labour's alternative route for HS2 which would also see it connect direct to Heathrow and the main line to the South West, enabling more of the country to benefit from high speed rail. Instead Ministers look set to announce an expensive fix, spending hundreds of millions of pounds in tunnelling to save the PM from an embarrassing Cabinet resignation. If Ministers are set on rejecting this sensible alternative then we will accept their decision but will expect credible alternatives to be brought forward for addressing the issues we have raised."