Former Transport Secretary Says HS2 Should Focus On The North

21 August 2019, 20:12

Former Transport Secretary Lord Darling said it was "inevitable" HS2 was being reviewed as so much has changed since the project started. But, he thought the Southern focus was wrong.

As the future of the HS2 rail link looks in doubt after as the Transport Secretary announced an independent review of the project, Eddie Mair spoke to former Transport Secretary Lord Alistair Darling.

Lord Darling said he thought it was "inevitable" the project would have to be reviewed as it is "quite clear an awful lot has happened" since the project was first put forward.

Not only are the costs "clearly not under control," but also he told LBC "nobody knows how much it's going to cost."

The second change, he said, was that railway investment was "desperately needed" in the Northern part of England, and the "priority should be to start there, rather than the Southern part" of the country.

Lord Darling was the Secretary of State for Transport
Lord Darling was the Secretary of State for Transport. Picture: LBC/PA

He also questioned whether it was necessary to have a train which "runs at 400 kilometre per hour" which "no other train in the world runs at."

The former Transport Secretary said even if you "reduced its line speed" you wouldn't "lose that much time, but you might save considerable costs."

Citing "over crowded" and "ancient" commuter trains, Lord Darling said he thought they should be the "priority."

Eddie pointed out that many of the problems Lord Darling had brought up were "present when Labour set the ball rolling on HS2."

Admitting the problems had "been there for a long time," Lord Darling said in the 1980s and 90s, very few people were able to work while on the train, so faster trains were needed. He said that "thinking has moved on, people do work on trains."

Watch the whole expert commentary from a former Transport Secretary in the video at the top of the page.