If Britain can’t afford to improve its existing railway infrastructure, how can it be expected to pay for the multi-billion pound HS2 project? Among the work being stalled through a shortage of cash is the electrification of the Midland mainline, on the Transpennine route between Leeds and Manchester.
UKIP Transport Spokesman Jill Seymour said: “Time and time again, the Government has insisted that the £55 billion-plus HS2 project would not impact on the financing of our existing railway infrastructure.
“Now, however, it appears we’re starting to see the truth. The Government is clearly tightening the purse strings on our existing rail infrastructure to help fund its disgraceful HS2 vanity project.”
The West Midlands MEP added: “On one hand, the Secretary of State points to the need to ensure that taxpayers’ money is not being wasted – yet on the other, he presses ahead stubbornly with a high-speed white elephant with an ever-inflating budget.
“If Network Rail has been operating inefficiently and overspending, then it must naturally be brought into line. But let us make sure we apply those exact same rules everywhere.
“HS2 is a politically driven project without a proven need. It has no proven business case, its costs seem to be going up by the week, and people who live along the proposed route have already lost value on their properties.
“The Government may be getting tough with Network Rail’s spending, but it doesn’t even blink about racking up an HS2 debt which will take generations to pay off, and which Britain simply cannot afford.”
UKIP has always maintained that the HS2 ‘vanity project’ should be scrapped.
Mrs Seymour said: “It is destroying people’s lives and their communities. There are still unanswered questions on plans and costs, and yet it is still moving forward against public wishes. It will only be supporting a minority, at the expense of the majority.
“What passengers want is an affordable, comfortable, reliable and efficient rail network system that delivers from south to north, and east to west. We already have a network in place which is desperate for improvement.
“The Government has got its rail transport priorities completely wrong. Investment should be targeted towards rail links which benefit the majority, not the minority.”