On September 11, 2013 the Department for Transport, at the height of the bromance government of Cameron/Clegg, issued a report on the UK vanity project of all vanities - the High Speed Two rail line from London to Birmingham and Birmingham to Manchester and Leeds.

Phase One at a target price of £17.16bn was to open in 2026 - now scheduled for 2028-2031. The total project budget was to be £42.6bn over 20 years, including £14.4bn of contingency, with phase Two to open in 2033 - now planned for 2035-2040.

Now we learn the original property alone cost estimated at £1.1bn has risen to £5bn and the total project cost is reckoned to be at least £106bn, resulting in a cost of around £400m per mile as it snakes northwards wreaking destruction in it’s path with it’s scorched earth policy of demolition, compensation, building and rebuilding, creating the most expensive stretch of railway in the world.

There would ultimately be triple the number of seats available from London we were told - a now obsolete ambition, as the numbers of commuters are currently down to less than 50 per cent of the pre-Covid-19 figures and unlikely to ever reach those early 2020 numbers again, as large swathes of the workforce will permanently remain working from home with the knock-on effect that has on city centre commerce.

There were, and still are, no guaranteed plans for any of the fast trains to stop north of Preston, yet alone Carlisle en route to Glasgow once they start travelling north from Manchester, so of little, if any, benefit to the people of Cumbria.

This most expensive white elephant vanity project ever to be inflicted on the UK taxpayer should be halted forthwith and all those billions of pounds used to save us from the national penury rapidly heading our way as Covid-19 decimates our lives and economy.

Patrick Tracey

St Edmunds Park