High speed rail is a “vanity project” which will cost taxpayers billions of pounds for no good reason, Birmingham MP Roger Godsiff (Lab Hall Green) has claimed.
Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr Godsiff said the £32 billion it will cost to build a 225mph line between London, Birmingham and the North could be better spent improving public transport in Birmingham, for example by building an underground system like the London tube or a new tram system.
Mr Godsiff is the only Birmingham MP to have come out against the Government’s plans for a new high speed rail service, which supporters claim will bring thousands of jobs to the city.
But the Commons also witnessed a clash between Coventry MP Geoffrey Robinson (Lab Coventry North), who opposes the planned line, and Richard Burden (Lab Northfield), who backs it.
Mr Robinson told MP there was no need to build a new rail line between London and Birmingham because the West Coast Main Line, used by Virgin Trains, already provides a good service.
He said: “It’s unnecessary to tear up some of the most beautiful countryside we have. I feel for those who are going to have their homes smashed and repossessed.”
The MP refused to let Mr Burden ask him a question, and instead told the House of Commons a story about a friend who once said: “The only good thing that comes out Birmingham is the Coventry road”.
When Mr Burden eventually had the chance to speak, he told the Commons that Mr Robinson’s views “do not represent those of the people of Birmingham or the West Midlands”.
The pair were mocked by Conservative MP Tony Baldry (Con North Oxfordshire), who said he would love to hear what the MPs say about each other in private.
The Commons Transport Committee is considering the case for and against HS2, and the Government is expected to announce the findings of an official consultation into the line before Christmas.