Cameron Orders Report on Keeping Down Cost of HS2 Rail

Prime Minister David Cameron ordered the new head of the planned high-speed rail line from London to northern England to study how costs can be kept down, amid continued political uncertainty over the project.

The opposition Labour Party has suggested it may scrap the 50 billion-pound ($80 billion) line, known as HS2, if it wins the 2015 election and costs continue to rise. The premier said last month the plan needs all-party support and he’ll call today on “everyone across politics to put their own interests aside and put the national interest first,” according to extracts from a speech released by his office

The new chairman of HS2 Ltd., David Higgins, “has agreed that the first vital step will be to bring his penetrating eye and expertise to a specific task,” Cameron will tell the Confederation of British Industry’s annual conference in London today. That will be to “report on the costs and to maximize the benefits for all parts of the country as quickly as possible.”

Higgins said after his appointment in September that the line, which will run from London to Birmingham and then on to Manchester and Leeds, can’t be a “political football.” The route is designed to cut journey times and increase capacity on existing lines for freight.

“Those who want to delay or obstruct HS2 show a lack of vision,” Cameron will say in his speech today. “They are playing politics with Britain’s prosperity.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Eddie Buckle in London at ebuckle@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at jhertling@bloomberg.net

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