Plans to accelerate the construction of the HS2 railway project have been described as a massive kick in the teeth for campaigners, by UKIP’s Transport spokesman.
Jill Seymour MEP accused Chancellor George Osborne of ruthlessly refusing to even acknowledge the views of objectors as he ploughs ahead with the multi-billion pound project.
“How is it that the Government can find an extra £13 billion for this enormous project over the next five years, and yet is stubbornly refusing to adequately compensate families living along the proposed HS2 route, whose lives are being torn apart?” she asked.
The Government announced today that the proposed high-speed rail line between Birmingham and Crewe is to open in 2027, six years ahead of schedule.
They also revealed that a former director general of the CBI, John Cridland, will be the first chair of ‘Transport for the North’, a new body created to improve the connection between cities in northern England.
“This will come as a massive kick in the teeth to campaigners, who will quite rightly feel that their valid objections are being totally ignored,” said Mrs Seymour, a West Midlands MEP.
“The cost of this vanity project goes up by the week, and is already far above the originally projected £50 billion.
“Last week we learned that nearly 50 officials at HS2 are being paid a higher annual salary than the Prime Minister – and now the Government wants to launch yet another quango which will doubtless be a big drain on public finances.”
Mrs Seymour added: “The Government claims that bringing forward this part of the HS2 route is a massive step in the right direction for its so-called ‘Northern Powerhouse’, with high-speed rail playing a big role in connecting it with the rest of the country.
“The truth is much different. This is an elitist project which Britain cannot afford and does not need. It will benefit just a small minority, while the majority of the country will be expected to shoulder the bill.
“UKIP has opposed HS2 from the start, and continues to do so. We believe that there has never been a compelling business case made for spending such eye-watering sums of money, particularly when our existing rail infrastructure is crying out for improvement.”