A vote is scheduled on the bill in the House of Commons on Thursday this week.
Early plans for the HS2 scheme were developed under the previous Labour government but it has since blown cold on the project in opposition as the costs have become clearer and controversy over the scheme has risen.
Labour’s position now appears to be that it supports the project but not the expenditure, although some prominent Labour figures are against the scheme as a concept. Lord Mandelson, for example, is among those who enthusiastically supported the scheme when he was in government and now opposes it just as fiercely in opposition.
Last week prime minister David Cameron said that a scheme of this size would not be feasible without cross-party support because potential investors would be scare off by the possibility of a Labour government coming into power in 2015 and scrapping it.
Labour’s shadow transport secretary Mary Creagh said it was not up to Labour to decide the future of the project, in an attempt to keep Labour untarnished by the controversy that HS2 has generated.
Ms Creagh said: “David Cameron and George Osborne are determined to go full steam ahead with this project, whatever the cost. Labour will not take this irresponsible approach. We will go ahead with the project if the costs are brought under control and are outweighed by the benefits of doing so. But if those conditions aren’t met we won’t go ahead regardless because we need to ensure that this is the best way to spend £50 billion for the future of our country.
“That’s why if David Cameron really cares about HS2 the best thing he could do is to get control of the spiralling budget. Rather than abdicating responsibility as he seems to be trying to do he should be getting a grip and bringing down its costs.
“On Thursday, Labour will vote in favour of the paving bill to allow preparatory expenditure on the scheme while maintaining pressure on the government to get the costs under control. We will lay amendments to ensure that the government is delivering value for money and to hold it to account. We will also maintain pressure on the government to work closely with the communities affected.”