The Prime Minister has urged critics of the controversial HS2 rail link not to stop the UK being a “winner in the global race.”
David Cameron’s comments came as new images of what Leeds’ new station will look like were being showcased for the first time.
As reported in the YEP, Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin launched a new public consultation last week, giving people and businesses along the proposed route of the high speed line chance to air their views.
Speaking at a question and answer session at luxury car firm Bentley in Crewe, yesterday, Mr Cameron insisted the north of England will see a string a benefits as a result of HS2.
He said: “I think if we want to be in the front rank of countries, if we want to be a winner in what I call the global race, then we’ve got to have a really fast and efficient transport infrastructure.
“I think when you look at what really makes a difference to the economic geography of a country it’s those big decisions to build the big motorway, to build the high-speed line as we did through the Channel Tunnel. It’s those decisions that can make a real difference to your country.”
The proposed route for the scheme was published by the Government earlier this year.
A branch of the line is due to be built bring HS2 trains into Leeds city centre of the city, which will see a station built on land close to Asda House and Bridgewater Place.
Supporters say the project will encourage investment in Leeds because it will mean shorter journey times to Birmingham and London.
But critics have questioned whether areas the line passes through, but where there are no stops, will see any benefits at all.
Opposition to the scheme has grown since the Government revealed that the scheme’s cost, including contingencies, had risen around £9 billion to more than £42 billion.
Phase one is now set to cost £21.4 billion, with phase two, taking the line north from Birmingham in a Y-shaped route, expected to cost £21.2 billion.
But Mr Cameron said: “I think it will be a big enhancement to our economy. Other countries are joining the high-speed revolution. We’re a little bit behind so I think it’s right that we catch up.”
The consultation on the proposed route for HS2 will close in January.