Birmingham HS2 Phase 2

Constructive talks on HS2 Phase 2 held between Mayors and Transport Secretary

The mayors of both Greater Manchester and the West Midlands met with Transport chiefs yesterday as they outlined their plans for a privately funded phase two of HS2.

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham was speaking at the Transport Select Committee yesterday, as he discussed in further detail the case for further devolution of transport policy to the English regions alongside how to improve connectivity.

However, he did say that “productive” talks had been with transport secretary Mark Harper and rail minister Huw Merriman on its plan for financing improvements to rail connections between Handsacre Junction in Staffordshire and Cheshire.

Speaking at the committee, Burnham said; "It's good that the government is at least listening to what we're saying."

He added: "As 2030 and 2040 come around, there is just no way on God's earth that the M6 and the West Coast mainline are capable of servicing the growth that we're seeing in Greater Manchester and in the West Midlands.

"There has to be another option for rail connectivity between the two cities.

"We're just looking at those possibilities, looking at a modest upgrade to the West Coast mainline or something more substantial, and how private finance might play a role in that."

Burnham also said that he felt that national infrastructure projects didn’t take into account the places they were expected to serve, with little regard into how they can benefit a region.

He said: “What I would say, from the railway perspective is that it has to adopt a more place based approach to infrastructure and not just think about building it. The DfT is told that it has to just build it and it doesn’t consider what the benefits or regeneration to that area could be.

“That where bodies like Transport for the North should come in.”

The pair has commissioned former HS2 chairman, Sir David Higgins to spearhead a group of private sector partners to investigate the possibility of linking the two regions with a high speed route, however just last week, when speaking at a Conservative Home conference, Harper said that he remained ‘sceptical’ that a rail project of that magnitude could be completed without public funding.

Speaking yesterday, Harper said the government remained committed to its replacement Network North plan, saying:  "We are already getting on with delivering our Network North plan, which will see £36bn reallocated into local transport projects - benefitting more people in more places, more quickly."

Photo Credit: iStock

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