HS2 Phase’s 2a and b have been scrapped, Downing Street has confirmed.
This will mean the link from Birmingham to Crewe and onwards to Manchester will now no longer be going ahead.
In his speech at the Conservative Party conference this morning, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, promised a new ‘northern network’ including protecting £12 billion for a link up between Liverpool and Manchester, improving the Midlands rail hub and building the Leeds tram project.
The Government had refused to comment on the speculation for weeks, despite several reports suggesting that the Prime Minister was prepared to shelve the project, blaming soaring costs.
HS2 has been beset with problems in recent years. After initially being set to start at Euston station, work was halted on that location, until costs could be re-evaluated with phase one now currently starting in Old Oak Common in West London.
Plans for HS2 has consistently been trimmed back from its initial route. The route from Birmingham to Leeds was initially trimmed back to stop at East Midlands, however it was revealed in 2021 that it would not reach Leeds at all.
The initial cost for HS2 when it was first proposed was £30 billion however that has reportedly soared to nearer to £100 billion without the any work on the line beginning past Birmingham Curzon Street station.
The government’s Infrastructure and Projects Authority warned in July that there was “major issues with project definition, schedule, budget, quality and/or benefits delivery” and recommended that it would need rescoping.
Railway Industry Association CEO, Darren Caplan said: “Many of the Railway Industry Association’s members will be extremely disappointed by the Government’s proposal announced today by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to scrap HS2 between Birmingham and Manchester. This follows the previous scrapping of the Eastern Leg to Leeds, the Golborne Link to enable High Speed trains to get to and from Scotland, and the ‘pausing’ of the Old Oak Common to Euston stretch.
“The Government cites cost as its main reason for scrapping Phase 2, yet it should be remembered that this was the Government’s own scheme, built to its own specifications, and that the chopping and changing of the scope and timing of the project – adding considerably cost and delay – was entirely of the Government’s own making. Every time the scheme is rescoped it increases the cost.
“Scrapping HS2 Phase 2 is simply unnecessary and squanders the full benefits of Phase 1. The Government can work with metro mayors, the railway industry, rail suppliers, and other stakeholders, to agree a cost-effective way forward, including encouraging private investment to take pressure off the public purse.
The chair of Midlands Connect, Sir John Pearce said: “Many councils and local areas have prepared their plans for economic growth, jobs and housing on the back of HS2. Any radical changes will undoubtedly reduce investor confidence and set back the economic growth of the Midlands and the North for many years to come.
“Now, whilst costs are spiralling, we do understand the need to look again at how we deliver and execute high speed rail in this country but by axing the whole route north of Birmingham, there is a significant risk of failing to effectively connect the UK all the way from Scotland through the North, the Midlands and the South coast.”
Speaking just before the announcement earlier this week, mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham said: “This will be remembered as the conference when they pulled the plug on us.
“What gives them the right to treat people here in Greater Manchester and the north of England as second-class citizens?
“We’re growing faster than the UK economy. We’re a success story and then, behind you, you have got people working against you.”
Photo Credit: HS2