THE Government’s new Transport Minister will today warn of a “crisis in capacity” on Britain’s rail network if the new HS2 line is not built quickly, in her first major speech since being handed the role.
Baroness Susan Kramer will tell a high-speed rail conference in London that the benefits of the new line will be “huge” and offer a “great opportunity” for British business as construction work gets under way.
Baroness Kramer, a Liberal Democrat, was appointed to the Department for Transport earlier this month following the resignation of Rail Minister Simon Burns.
She will insist Britain has an “exceptional” track record of successfully building major construction projects over recent years, and will make clear there will be no turning back from the £50bn HS2 project.
“We are driving forward HS2 because the benefits it will bring are huge,” she will tell the Railway Engineers Forum this morning. “And without HS2 we face a crisis in capacity on our rail network.
“I am determined, as is the rest of my department, that this will be a great opportunity for British businesses and British workers.
“Around the world the UK is recognised as exceptionally capable of delivering big infrastructure projects: Crossrail and the Olympics have shown us that. But the extent of our vision and ambition doesn’t stop at HS2. In the next Parliament we are investing over £56bn on roads, existing railways and local transport to help Britain succeed in the global market.”
She becomes the latest senior coalition figure to pledge public support for the scheme after the Government launched a “fightback” last month.
David Cameron, George Osborne and Nick Clegg have all repeatedly spoken out in favour of the scheme over recent weeks, along with Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin and Infrastructure Minister Lord Deighton.
n On Saturday the Yorkshire Post launches its Big Debate project, bringing together key opinion-formers, politicians, business leaders and readers to discuss and share ideas on HS2.