Transport Infrastructure - Statement

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 3:44 pm on 11th February 2020.

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Photo of Lord Grocott Lord Grocott Labour 3:44 pm, 11th February 2020

My Lords, I strongly support the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Young, that yesterday’s pessimists about HS1 are today’s enthusiasts for HS1. The same point can be made about the first London-to-Birmingham railway, which was ferociously opposed on cost and other grounds. Since it was built in 1838, it must represent, though no one can calculate it, the most phenomenal return on capital of any project ever constructed, which we could not possibly do without. I ask the Minister, given that the Victorians built the first London-to-Birmingham railway in five years, with picks, shovels and wheelbarrows, if it is too much to expect a better completion date. I think the one she offered was somewhere between 2029 and 2032, or something like that. If she gives an option, it will be the latter of those dates. Can she not be firmer and speed it up a bit?