The Second Reading of the HS2 Preparation Bill takes place today. I believe it is the right project for Britain. HS2 is a vital part of the infrastructure overhaul that this government is delivering so that our country can compete in the global race. It will be the first line to be built north of London in 120 years and the simple fact is that, without it, the key rail and road routes connecting London, the Midlands and the North will soon be overwhelmed. Rail travel has doubled in a decade and even on moderate forecasts, the West Coast Mainline will be full by the mid 2020s. Therefore, this is not a choice between upgrading the existing railway and building a new railway. It is a choice between a new high speed line and a new conventional railway. The significant additional benefits make high speed the right answer.
As well as addressing the issue of capacity, HS2 offers huge opportunities to create jobs and boost our economy. Our lowest estimates are that the project will create 100,000 jobs. The Core Cities group goes further, predicting that it will underpin four times that number, with 70 per cent of them outside London. It is expected to provide around £50 billion pounds worth of economic benefits for the economy, with some estimates suggesting it will add more than £4 billion before it is even open. Our towns and cities, particularly across the North and Midlands, cannot afford to lose out on these opportunities.
Today marks an important milestone in the journey to HS2, as parliament votes on it for the first time. There will no doubt be challenges on the way. The fact is that the easiest thing for the government to do would be not to build it. But that would also be the wrong thing to do. HS2 is a once in a generation project that can be an engine of growth for the whole country. I hope you will work with me to make sure we fully realise its benefits while effectively managing its impacts.
This is a project begun by the Labour Party and being continued y the Coalition government and it is good news for the country and the north east