HS2 'will not need blank cheque'
Promoters of the £50 billion HS2 high-speed rail scheme have never asked for a blank cheque and will not need one, the head of the project will say.
Labour appears to be cooling towards the scheme, with shadow chancellor Ed Balls questioning whether it might be better for the money to be spent on other schemes.
He also told his party's annual conference he would not "write a blank cheque" for the scheme, whose first phase will see a high-speed line pass through Tory heartlands from London to Birmingham.
HS2 Ltd chief executive Alison Munro will say she envisages the scheme being on time and within budget. Speaking at a transport conference in London, Ms Munro will say: "We have never asked for a blank cheque, neither do we want or need one. We fully understand the need to keep costs around the project under control. We look forward to bringing HS2 home, on time and within budget."
Lord Adonis, who drove forward the HS2 project when he was Labour's transport secretary in the last Labour government, on Tuesday urged his party not to ditch the scheme, which will also see a second phase take the line to north west and north east England.
Following his speech on Monday, Mr Balls stressed that HS2 had to have "proper cost control and proper value for money".
At the conference, organised by the Institution of Civil Engineers, Ms Munro will stress the need for HS2, with the West Coast Main Line being full by the mid-2020s.
She will point out that more than 70% of jobs created by the project will be outside London, that transport matters to the economy and that high-speed rail can transform local economies and act as an engine of growth for the national economy.
Ms Munro will say that HS2 could boost annual productivity by £15 billion and create many thousands of jobs. The first phase of HS2 is due for completion in 2026 with the second, Y-shaped section of line finished around 2032/33.