George Osborne has reiterated his ‘passionate’ support for HS2, despite fears costs are spiralling out of control.
The chancellor told the BBC the £43 billion budget is a ‘good’ one with a ‘very big contingency in it’.
He also pointed to the Olympics as an example of the UK keeping to budget on big projects.
Two former Labour cabinet ministers who were in power when HS2 was agreed in principle - Lord Mandelson and ex-chancellor Alistair Darling - have come out in opposition to the controversial line as the budget has risen from £34bn to £43bn.
Labour says it still supports HS2, but has put a £50bn cap on costs.
A recent report by the Institute of Economic Affairs warned it may end up costing £80bn.
The government-backed company behind the project, HS2 Ltd, has said it is ‘simply not true’ costs are out of control.
Mr Osborne told the Andrew Marr Show: “I’m passionate about this project because time and again, we have this debate in our country about how we’re going to bring the gap between north and south together, about how we’re going to make sure that our growth is not just based on the City of London.
“High Speed 2 is about changing the economic geography of this country, making sure the North and the Midlands benefit from the recovery as well.”
The project’s first phase would see 225mph trains running between London and Birmingham, through Aylesbury Vale, by 2026.