The prime minister David Cameron joined his cabinet colleagues in defending High Speed 2 at the Conservative Party conference.
Speaking today, he said: “The West Coast mainline is almost full. We have to build a new railway and the choice is between another old-style Victorian one and a new high-speed one.
“HS2 is about bringing north and south together in our national endeavour because think what more we could do with the pistons firing in all parts of our economy.”
He then highlighted the potential for wind power generation in the Humber estuary and shale gas extraction in Blackpool as examples of future economic expansion.
The cost and justification for High Speed 2 have come under fire in recent months, but Mr Cameron, chancellor George Osborne and transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin have all reiterated their support for it in their conference speeches.
Mr Cameron also praised the idea of technical colleges, mentioning one run by plant maker JCB, and said there should be one in every town.
In a speech whose refrain was “finishing what we have started”, there was little in the way of new policy.
Mr Cameron said the government would continue to aim to reduce the country’s deficit and eventually aim for a budget surplus.
He added: “To abandon deficit reduction now would throw away all of the progress we have made and would put us back to square one.”