My research has shown that if we are committing to build a new railway line, the cost of building a fast one is not significantly more than building a conventional one. The majority of the costs come in building the cuttings, the bridges and all the other necessary infrastructure. Making a faster one costs a little more, but not a huge amount more.
If we merely expanded capacity on the west coast or east coast line, we would have to do that at the same time as running existing services. Anyone who used the west coast main line during the previous upgrade will say what an absolute nightmare that is. Such an approach would not solve the problem of competing demands for use on the existing line between commuter services, freight services, non-stop inter-city services and stopping services. We cannot continually squeeze more and more capacity out of one line, as we will reach capacity and will be overly reliant on that line. That is why I accept the case for a new high-speed line.
I accept that the project is controversial and completely understand the fears of residents along the proposed line of route. There are justifiable concerns about disturbing the peace and quiet of the countryside, but I urge right hon. and hon. Members to look at what happened during the construction and planning of High Speed 1. The same concerns were raised, but since the line has opened there have been very few, if any, complaints.