Opponents doubt business case for £17 billion UK high-speed rail link

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The economic case for spending £17 billion to build a high-speed rail link from London to Birmingham is losing support from local and county politicians in a UK economy facing multi-billion-pound budget cuts, high unemployment and inflation.

The Daily Telegraph newspaper reports that critics believe Prime Minister David Cameron’s High Speed 2 plan — to link Britain’s two largest cities in a 49-minute bullet train ride at speeds of up to 250 mph — lacks a serious business case and would not stand up to scrutiny.

In another blow, business leaders in the West Midlands – the region touted to benefit most from the rail link – have criticised the project and said the money allocated to it should be used it to improve existing roads and railways.

Cameron says the High Speed 2 line, with planned extensions to Manchester and Leeds, and eventually Scotland, can help to close the north-south divide and promote regeneration.

Outside the super-fast rail corridor, other slower trains and the communities they serve, would suffer, critics say.

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