The new transport secretary says it's full speed ahead for HS2

 
Lynsey Barber
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Stop HS2 Campaigners Protest Outside Parliament
HS2 is not welcomed by all (Source: Getty)

It's full-speed ahead for the High Speed 2 rail project - despite concerns over budget-busting costs and criticism that it is flawed a "vanity project".

Newly appointed transport secretary has said the £56bn project to bring high speed train travel between London and cities in the North, including Leeds, Birmingham and Sheffield, will remain on track.

"I have no plans to back away from the HS2 project," he said, speaking to the BBC, adding it's as much about capacity as it is speed.

Read more: Boffins blast runaway costs of High Speed 2

The project, which aims to be up and running by 2027, is facing "cost and time pressures" according to a recent report from the National Audit Office.

Critics argue that it will not bring about its main objectives such as faster journeys, capacity and regeneration.

Southern, Heathrow and Gatwick

Grayling said he had a number of top prorities, HS2 among them.

Southern Rail, which recently cut services provoking commuter protests, was also a top priority.

Read more: Does Britain have a problem with big infrastructure projects?

"I've been in the job 36 hours, and I can assure Southern users this is the top of my agenda," he said, adding: "they've got to improve, and got to improve quickly."

He also promised to move "rapidly" on the matter of expanding the UK's air capacity, which has been kicked into the long grass in recent months. A choice between expanding Heathrow or Gatwick has been a contentious issue.

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