Brits could face passenger RATIONING and soaring fares if £106billion HS2 is scrapped, chiefs warn | The Sun

EX-CHANCELLOR George Osborne last night slammed proposals to scrap the Manchester leg of HS2, warning it would be a “gross act of vandalism”.

Mr Osborne said any watering down of the £106bn rail project risks destroying Rishi Sunak's reputation at home and abroad.

His view was shared by fellow ex-Chancellor Lord Heseltine, who wrote in The Times that abandoning the project would be an “act of huge economic self-harm”.

Mr Sunak is considering scrapping the Manchester leg of HS2 as part of a major political comeback operation.

Some in the Cabinet fear inflation has caused it to become far too expensive and the money could be better spent elsewhere.


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No10's attempt to turn around the polls and the PM's personal approval ratings has so far seen pledges to ban cigarettes and vapes and water down net zero rules.

While those "red meat" policies are popular among Tory MPs, scrapping parts of HS2 is far more controversial.

A letter written by Network Rail Chief Andrew Haines, seen by The Times, warns changing the project could force train bosses to impose passenger "rationing" during peak hours.

It could also lead to soaring fares amid huge demand for a limited rail service.

Mr Haines said that the west coast main line was already “effectively full” and more demand from passengers would require “difficult trade-offs".

This morning the PM refused to categorically deny accusations the Manchester leg of HS2 could go.

He said: "I'm not going to comment on that type of speculation.

"But what I would say is we're absolutely committed to levelling up and spreading opportunity around the country, not just in the North but in the Midlands, in all other regions of our fantastic country.

"And transport infrastructure is a key part of that, not just big rail projects, but also local projects, improving local bus services, fixing pot holes, all of these things make a difference in people's day-to-day lives."

Mr Sunak added: "This kind of speculation that people are making is not right. We've got spades in the ground, we're getting on and delivering."

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Housing Minister Rachel Maclean said no decisions on HS2 have been made yet.

She told LBC: "There is no decision to stop it yet, but it is right that we look at patterns of travel.

"There is investment going into railways, we've put investment into buses across the country – connectivity is vitally important to grow the economy, so we have to look at the priorities across the whole of the demands on transport more broadly, and of course the road network is important in this."

Ms Maclean added: "There is speculation and I know the Prime Minister and the Chancellor are looking at this. It is right that they are looking at it. It is a project that has ballooned in cost."

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