HS2 should continue to be built in full, despite costs soaring to £88bn, a review of the scheme has indicated.
And this has been backed by the Northern Powerhouse Partnership.
A leaked early draft of the report seen by The Times stated the high-speed railway could boost cities in the North and Midlands more than London due to better connections on intercity routes.
It also claimed there are no “shovel-ready” alternative schemes to raise capacity on the existing railway, and “large ticket price rises” will be needed to discourage peak-time travel unless it is built.
But the review, led by former HS2 Ltd chairman Douglas Oakervee, warned that the project’s latest cost estimate of £88bn is expected to increase further. HS2 was allocated £56 billion in 2015.
Henri Murison, director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, said: “The Northern Powerhouse Independent Review on HS2 said that there were no identified credible alternatives to HS2 in order to deliver the same capacity, and that it has the potential to unlock greater growth in North and Midlands.
"It is welcome that their recommendations are mirrored by the Government's own Oakervee Review.”