Sir Bill Cash: Cross country lines needed more than HS2
Sir Bill Cash has called for new local train services across the country as he urged ministers to scrap the "appalling disaster" of HS2.
The Stone MP said money saved by ditching the controversial high speed rail project could be ploughed into much-needed new lines going from east to west.
It came as Tory leadership favourite Boris Johnson appeared to change course over the line, stressing that it should not be axed having previously opposed it over escalating costs.
Meanwhile Birmingham MP and mayoral hopeful Liam Byrne, who has backed the line, made the case for improvements to the planned main station at Curzon Street.
HS2 is set to pass through 45 miles of Staffordshire countryside on its way from London to the north.
Slated to cost £56 billion, it has come under increasing scrutiny in recent weeks, with one report saying its costs were spiralling out of control, and another saying ministers were aware in 2015 that its budget was likely to run to £65bn.
Speaking ahead of the latest parliamentary debate on the business case for the line, Sir Bill said the line was "completely unnecessary".
"This HS2 project is an appalling disaster," he added.
"Quite frankly, the costs have been escalating to a point where some people believe it could cost as much as £100 billion, and you consider that against the background of what's going on at the moment in the economy, it simply is not value for money.
"The Government itself has now made it clear to the head of HS2 that they have got to review the costs element, and there is enormous and unbelievable damage going on in constituencies such as mine as and when the project goes forward.
"It's creating enormous uncertainty, it's putting people under the most intense emotional pressure. There are people who are deeply worried and some people believe that it has caused such anxiety that it should really be disposed of on those grounds alone.
"The money could be far better spent on other things.
"In particular, from a transport point of view, and infrastructure, there is an absolute need which is felt all the way from Coventry northwards in this country, to have a really efficient local transport infrastructure network going east to west, for example."
Mr Byrne spoke in the Westminster Hall debate to defend the case for HS2, but he called for a rethink on the current plans for the landmark Curzon Street station, which will serve as the central hub for the entire network.
He said the station, which is expected to cost £435m by the time it opens in 2026, was "not good enough" and paled in comparison to international landmark stations such as Madrid's Atocha Station and Grand Central Station in New York.