The problem with projects like HS2 is they are viewed in isolation and sold that way. We should build it and not stop building. HS2, HS3, HS4 etc. whatever you want to call them are just modernisation of our railway network to run whatever trains may come along over the next 100 years or more. People talk about it only being about London or knocking 20 minutes off the Birmingham to London journey are missing the point. We should start building new railways and not stop.
Projects of this size bring huge benefits to the UK as a whole wherever they are actually located. People come from all over the UK to work on them taking money back to their home town, likewise suppliers are based all over. Hardly any of our suppliers on Crossrail were actually based in London. Most were from the North or South West.
The cost of HS2 was £52bn when I was on it but even if it ends up at £100bn the project is a 13 year long one. That works out at just over 6bn per year. Still a huge amount of money but will give us a world class railway, a huge tax income, thousands of skilled workers, many of which will go from apprentice to seasoned pro over the length of the project and mean we have the workforce and lessons learned to go forward with all the other high speed lines more efficiently.
Many of the people I hear complaining about HS2 are the very same people that complain we no longer build anything, provide apprenticeships or support our local industries. Something like HS2 comes along and they are all against it.
I do fear however that this will be used by politicians who can only look 5 years down the road to get back some support after Brexit and it will be cancelled. We will have paid a huge amount and dug up large areas only to end up with nothing. Thousands will lose their jobs yet some will see this as a cause for celebration. Personally I would rather we just cut £6bn from our foreign aid budget to pay for it.