Proposals to scrap the HS2 high speed rail to pay for a range of smaller improvements have been slammed as “an embarrassment”.
The Taxpayers’ Alliance published 28 projects which they say could be funded if HS2 was scrapped.
Their ideas included dramatic improvements to the A1 all the way from Durham to Edinburgh, turning the road into a dual carriageway, and possibly a fully-fledged motorway, along the whole 140-mile stretch.
But the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, the think-tank founded by former Chancellor George Osborne to promote the North, said the region needed HS2 as well as smaller schemes.
Henri Murison, director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership said: “Northern business and civic leaders all agree we need HS2, Northern Powerhouse Rail and more investment in key road and mass transit schemes for city regions.
“Why should hard pressed taxpayers in the North, who pay double the amount of road tax and fuel duty than those living in London, be forced to make a choice between them after decades of underinvestment here?
“This half-baked plan is an embarrassment to the Tax Payers Alliance because the sums don’t add up.”
He added: “Northerners are not going to stand for cancelling HS2 in order to pay for a list of schemes decided by a bunch of Westminster bubble types trying to impress Tory leadership candidates.
“It will cost up to £120bn by 2050 to do everything needed as well as HS2. Those are the real sums.”
The Taxpayers’ Alliance report was launched by Conservative MP David Davis and there is speculation that candidates in a future Conservative leadership contest could propose cancelling the scheme.
The Taxpayers’ Alliance said canceling HS2 would free up £50bn, the money currently due to be spent on the new network.
Improving the A1 was just one of a number of improvements to road and rail services across the country that could be carried out instead, they claimed.
Other proposed projects include re-introducing passenger services on the freight line between Newcastle and Ashington, at a cost of £50m.
There would be intermediate stations at Northumberland Park (which forms part of the Tyne and Wear Metro), Seghill, Seaton Delaval, Newsham for Blyth , Bebside and Bedlington.
A station at the Woodhorn Museum of Mining and Northumberland Life, a major tourist attraction in the region, would serve as a park and ride facility for commuters from the outlying villages of Newbiggin-by-the-Sea, Linton, Lynemouth and Ellington.
And Blyth would be served by a new station at Newsham, on the outskirts of the town.
The Taxpayers’ Alliance said there would also be funding for an £18.1bn high speed line specifically for the North.
It would make use of existing rail track, some of which would be upgraded, as well as a new Transpennine high speed line.
An HS2 Ltd spokesperson said: ” HS2 is expected to generate around £92bn in benefits to the UK economy as a whole. It will transform rail journeys and give passengers thousands of extra seats every day.
“The capacity that HS2 provides makes future infrastructure projects like Northern Powerhouse Rail and the Midlands Rail Hub possible.
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“Local economic plans show almost 500,000 jobs and nearly 90,000 new homes resulting from the improved connectivity these services will provide across the country.
“The HS2 programme continues to enjoy cross party support, with the Phase One Bill receiving a majority of 357 votes from MPs in favour.
“In January this year, a joint letter from 40 leaders in the North and Midlands to all party leaders reinforced their commitment to work with us to deliver HS2.”
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