Chris Grayling said he has “no plans to back away” from HS2
New transport secretary Chris Grayling has quashed fears HS2 could be axed.
Grayling is a keen backer of the project, having previously spoken up for the project in former government roles and voted in favour of the scheme at various stages of the HS2 bill.
There had been fears it could have been scrapped under the new Theresa May government, in the context of a recent National Audit Office report finding the cost of HS2 has ballooned well over its £55.7bn budget while the company behind it, HS2 Ltd, is only 60% confident of delivering the first phase on time
But speaking at the weekend, Grayling reaffirmed the government’s commitment to the project, in a move which should reassure contractors and consultants working or bidding for work on the scheme.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s The World This Weekend, the transport secretary said he has “no plans to back away from the HS2 project”, which he said was more about adding capacity to the “really congested” rail network than simply about speed.
Grayling said: “The thing that’s important for people to understand is that HS2 is not simply a speed project, it’s a capacity project.
“We have lines at the moment which have seen huge increases in the number of passengers, the amount of freight in recent years.”
He added: “Of course it makes sense if we’re going to build a new railway line for it to be a fast railway line, to increase travel times or reduce travel times from north to south – that’s logical.
“But actually we need a better transport system for the 21st century and HS2 is part of increasing the capacity of our transport system.”