Mayor James Palmer backs PM review of HS2 claiming escalating costs are ‘eye-watering. It takes Kings Dyke to a new level’

Mayor James Palmer (third left) on a recent cycle ride between Shepreth and Cambridge rail stations

Mayor James Palmer (third left) on a recent cycle ride between Shepreth and Cambridge rail stations at the invitation of Brian Robertson (left) who he first met at a local transport public consultation event in St Neots when he extended the invitation. Picture: JAMES PALMER - Credit: Archant

Amidst claims of escalating costs, Mayor James Palmer has called for the Government’s HS2 rail project to be scrapped and part of the money saved to be handed to him and the eight other combined authorities.

Mayor Palmer said: "Former Commons leader Andrea Leadsom has suggested the bill could top £100 billion.

"It's eye watering. It takes Kings Dyke to another level".

But Councillor Lewis Herbert, leader of Cambridge City Council, said of Mayor Palmer's comments that it was important to remember that was only his personal views.

Cllr Herbert tweeted: "It's a purely personal opinion and not a combined authority view.

"There's never been any analysis, shared report or discussion on HS2 at the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority."

The mayor claims that "pulling the English regions into a joined-up network" is about far more than speeding up the North-South journey by 50 minutes.

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He said: "It's about ensuring that you can actually get a train from March to Cambridge, a journey which should take only 30 minutes but is practically impossible.

"And the big issue holding back England is not how to go north or south but how to get across the country, from East to West."

He said he applauded the "courage" of new Prime Minister Boris Johnson in putting HS2 back under the microscope.

"I won't be alone in hoping that this particular gravy train is stopped in its tracks - or at least scaled back."

The mayor said: "Of course a review does not mean HS2 will definitely be scrapped or downsized, but it raises the possibility.

" I'd like to see those HS2 billions split between the other major transport schemes that could bring far wider benefit to UK Inc, and massively improve travel, trade, and tourism for people throughout our country."

If the HS2 money was given to the devolved authorities then "at a stroke, it could pay for our priority transport projects; projects that will link our market towns and cities with effective".

In the immediate turn Mayor Palmer said he was urging people to put forward their comments on the draft local transport plan. This "lays out what we promised: a bold, challenging, world-class, joined-up transport network that loops in everything from cycleways to the ambitious Cambridge Autonomous Metro, one smooth system to get people where they want to be".

The consultation ends on September 27.