The Bill that lays the foundation for High Speed 2 (HS2) will be debated in Parliament this week. There is no doubt this project is an ambitious undertaking and one which has divided opinion over the benefits such a project will bring and its cost.
Many believe that HS2 is a project that will help promote economic growth, drive regional regeneration by bringing our major cities closer together and support job creation. The network is expected to deliver up to £50 billion of benefits to businesses in Britain and will support up to 100,000 jobs. We have a rail system desperately in need of further investment and modernisation to bring the links between our major cities into line with those seen in many other European countries.
I appreciate that this project can only remain viable if its cost remains proportionate to the benefits it will bring. The current projected cost for the project is some £8 billion over the initial estimate and has to remain value for money to receive public support.
I remember the similar debate that took place over HS1 as there were concerns raised over the cost of HS1. I believe that Kent is already seeing the benefits of the High Speed 1 service to London and the proposed redevelopment of the Swanscombe Peninsula is testament to the huge economic value that areas can expect from the delivery of high speed rail services. I believe that HS1 has brought huge benefits to this area and will continue to do so for many years to come.