June 4, 2019 / 3:40 PM / 16 days ago

UK might switch infrastructure focus away from high-speed rail - minister

FILE PHOTO: Britain's Chief Secretary to the Treasury Liz Truss is seen outside Downing Street, as uncertainty over Brexit continues, in London, Britain May 21, 2019. REUTERS/Hannah Mckay

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s next prime minister might decide to prioritise other infrastructure spending projects over the planned, 56 billion-pound High-Speed 2 (HS2) rail project, a government minister said on Tuesday.

Liz Truss, chief secretary to the Treasury, told lawmakers that investing more money in fibre optic cable or in other transport projects were possible alternatives to HS2.

Any decision to proceed with or drop HS2 would have to be taken by the end of this year, she said.

Britain’s government has said HS2 will cut travel times between London, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds, giving a boost to economic development in the north of England.

But the cost of the project and protests by residents living close to its planned route have prompted some contenders to succeed Theresa May as prime minister to say it should be put on hold.

Reporting by William Schomberg, editing by David Milliken

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