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Ex-chancellor changes mind on HS2 and warns of 'nightmare'
FORMER Chancellor Alistair Darling says he has changed his mind over High Speed 2 and now warns it could create a 'nightmare' for the country's railway network.
Mr Darling, who was in the Cabinet during the last Labour Government when the £42.6bn scheme was approved, said he has fears over its knock on effect, with the price rising.
His comments come hot on the heels of a scathing report by the Institute for Economic Affairs.
Author Dr Richard Wellings said the costs for the project could rise to £80 billion - almost double the £42.6 billion it has currently been allocated by the Government.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has again insisted the high speed plan is crucial for railway passenger and freight capacity but Mr Darling has cast further doubts on the merits of HS2.
He told the BBC: "My fear is, if you build this visionary project that you will have a nightmare on the rest of the network because you don't have the money to spend on it.
"My experience as transport secretary is that if you do not spend money on upgrading, improving the track, improving the trains, then the thing will simply, eventually start falling apart, as it did by the mid-1990s."
He cited the £8bn rebuild cost of the West Coast Mainline as an example of the kind of money needed without investment in the rest of the network.
Mr McLoughlin said the budget of £42.6bn had not altered and included contingency money.
The Government is also splashing significant amounts of cash on other parts of the rail infrastructure, he said, while the Government again stressed the importance of the scheme for the economy.
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