McLoughlin: Investing in trains is not a choice
Patrick McLoughlin has laid out plans for the second phase of the £33bn High Speed Rail project, saying investing in infrastructure projects "is not a choice".
Speaking to the House of Commons, the Transport Secretary said: "To create jobs and to re-balance our economy, we need better roads, better airports and better trains and HS2 is central to that part of the investment.
He called rail link an "engine for growth throughout the country", adding that every pound spent on the project would benefit the economy by £2.
The proposed Y-shaped network, which is expected to deliver 100,000 jobs, runs north of Birmingham and will have five stops, including Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield.
It was earlier hailed by David Cameron as "vital" for Britain's economy.
"I think it’s vital for Britain if we’re going to succeed in the global race," the Prime Minister said to reporters. "Yes, these are difficult economic times but I think that’s precisely the time you should be planning for the future, working out how we link up the cities of our country, how reduce journey times, how we spread our wealth and prosperity around the country.
"We do need to rebalance the economy. It has been too dominated by the South and by certain industries and I think High Speed Rail will really help to create a better balanced economy."
Meanwhile, George Osborne has said the new route will "change the economic geography of this country".
But the scheme faces a potential obstacle in the courts, with a judge due to rule this week on a judicial review application from 15 councils opposed to the new route.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today Mr McLoughlin said the Government was working to assuage the fears of people who were skeptical the line would be built beyond Birmingham.
"A lot of people have argued it would only ever get built to Birmingham. What we’re doing is saying this isn’t just for Manchester and Leeds but it is onto connectivity with other places as well," he said.