UKIP Transport spokesman Jill Seymour says the £56-billion HS2 ‘white elephant’ project is falling apart – and has called on the Government to cut its losses and scrap it altogether.
Mrs Seymour, who has been campaigning against HS2 from the outset, responded to a report in The Times which claims the Government is preparing to delay HS2 legislation by at least a year.
The newspaper says legislation needed to pave the way for the second section of HS2 to serve northern England is to be put on hold, and the bill enabling the line to be built to Manchester and Leeds will not now be tabled until at least 2020.
Mrs Seymour said: “All of the time that the clock is ticking, the budget for this vanity project is spiralling further and further out of control. And it’s the taxpayers who will have to pick up the pieces.
“This is surely the perfect opportunity for the Government to take stock of the situation, admit that it has got things wrong, and scrap HS2 altogether. It’s not too late.”
She added: “The Department for Transport says it is important that HS2 ‘takes full account’ of Northern Powerhouse Rail, the scheme to boost rail connections from east to west across northern regions.
“Is this not an admission that we should be redirecting time and resources towards getting our existing railway infrastructure up to speed, before wasting billions on a luxury line that most people will never use?
“I call once again on transport secretary Chris Grayling to open his ears to the growing volume of opposition to HS2, and take a reality check. No amount of money – our money – or parliamentary delays can possibly make this fatally flawed project worthwhile.
“The question we should be asking instead is, when is this gravy train going to stop? When can the innocent people whose lives and homes are set to be wrecked by the line sleep easily in their beds once again?
“Victims of the HS2 land seizure, who are losing their properties and livelihoods, are already being pushed towards financial ruin as HS2 heartlessly tries to grind them down by delaying compensation payments, and news of these delays only prolongs their misery.
“This is so, so wrong. HS2 is not a financial game – innocent people’s lives are being destroyed by a project which the vast majority of people say they don’t want, won’t use, and certainly don’t need.”
Paul Griffiths, the managing director of phase two of HS2, has already announced he is to leave the post at the end of this year.
Mrs Seymour said: “He can clearly see that the writing is on the wall for a project which has never had a proven business case. The Government should follow his lead, and turn its backs on the whole sorry mess.