Campaigners opposed to HS2 have issued a warning to any politician hoping to become minister responsible for development of the £50 billion high speed rail project.
They were commenting after former Olympic chief Lord Paul Deighton launched his HS2 Taskforce report which highlighted how cities like Birmingham could make the most of the growth opportunities offered by HS2 - including establishing a minister for HS2 to lead the rail project.
Richard Houghton of HS2 Action Alliance said: “The only thing high speed about a Minister for HS2 would be the pace at which his or her career would be shunted into the political sidings when it became apparent that unscheduled costs were building with all the momentum of a runaway train.
“HS2 is out of control. Being Minister for HS2 would be the most dangerous job in politics: in charge of a project with every sign of going to two or three times the original budget, responsible for wrecking families and generating property blight, and promoting a fast track for business, talent and jobs lost to London from the regions.
“As a transport project, HS2 is on political life support. A Ministry for HS2 would break every rule of austerity and fiscal common-sense that the Chancellor has been harping on about.”
But the report was welcomed by the Rail Delivery Group said: “Lord Deighton is right to say that HS2 could be much more than a railway. It should be seen as the future backbone of Britain’s growing rail network, serving the needs of a modern and dynamic economy.
“The time has come to move on from debating if HS2 is necessary, and instead focus on planning how to maximise the benefits it can bring.
“The rail industry will work with Government, HS2 Ltd, passenger groups and suppliers to help ensure the new line is a big success.”
Former Tory cabinet minister Lord Heseltine said: “The HS2 growth taskforce has shown just the kind of thinking needed to maximise growth and unleash the potential of great cities such as Leeds, Birmingham, Manchester and Sheffield.
“The report provides a clear view of what must be done, and equally importantly who must do it, if we are to get Britain truly ready to benefit from HS2.”
A Department for Transport spokesman said: “This report is an important contribution from a highly respected team of public and private sector leaders and it demonstrates just how vital HS2 is to our economic growth. The report contains some very interesting recommendations, which will now be considered.”