HS2 1

The chief executive of the HS2 has called for decisionmakers "not to lose sight" of the "clear" benefits of the project.

The project has often been criticised for being too expensive, taking too long, its environmental impact and its impact on the UK countryside, which in part led to a House of Lords committee last week debating whether or not HS2 is good value for money.

Speaking to the BBC, HS2 boss Mark Thurston said "the real prize for the country is to complete the second phase", which would link Birmingham to Manchester and Leeds.

He stressed that completing the high-speed rail line will provide a £92 billion boost to the UK economy, and deliver returns of £2.30 for every £1 spent.

Mr Thurston said: "Connecting the three major cities of the Midlands and the North, a metropolitan area of about 10 million people, and being able to get between those cities in about 45-50 minutes will transform the economy."

Earlier this week, it was revealed that thousands of trees planted along the HS2 route will need to be replanted after they were not watered during last summer's drought.