Britain to proceed with major rail project HS2

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain said it would proceed with a plan to build High Speed 2, giving Europe’s largest infrastructure project the green light despite criticism that it is billions of pounds over budget.

Known as HS2, the new line between London and northern England will slash journey times and add capacity to Britain’s crowded network, allowing the UK to catch up with countries like France and Spain which have extensive high-speed rail.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson told lawmakers on Tuesday that he would restore discipline to the project after its costs spiralled.

“The cabinet has given high speed rail the green signal,” he told Parliament.

“We are going to get this done, and to ensure we do so without further blow outs on either costs or schedule, we are taking decisive action to restore discipline to the program.”

A review was carried out last year into whether HS2 should go ahead at all, after its predicted cost rose to a reported 106 billion pounds ($137 billion), almost double the bill five years ago.

Reporting by Sarah Young and Paul Sandle; editing by Kate Holton