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Prime minister commits to 'whole of HS2'

Theresa May

Prime minister Theresa May has reaffirmed her support for the High Speed 2 (HS2) project, in response to an open letter from concerned leaders in the Midlands and the North.

The renewed support came in response to a letter sent by Midlands Connect and Midlands Engine chairman Sir John Peace and signed by 40 other prominent figures urging party leaders to offer their unwavering support to the project.

In her written response May said she welcomed their continued support for HS2 and recognised the extent of the benefits the project was already having.

She went on to say that the government remained “committed to delivering the whole of HS2 phase 2” and would continue to work to ensure the project met the project supporters’ growth and regeneration aspirations.

Legislation to enable construction of Phase 2a, linking the West Midlands, Crewe and Manchester, is expected to achieve Royal Assent at the end of 2019.

The letter from the business and civic leaders was sent to the prime minister in January. Signatories included Peace, Liverpool City Region mayor Steve Rotheram, Leeds City Council leader and chair of core cities Judith Blake, Manchester Airports Group chief executive Charlie Cornish, the managing directors of East Midlands Airport and Birmingham Airport, as well as executives from retailer Boots, bank HSBC, management consultants PwC and contractor Mace.

May’s letter was published at a parliamentary reception, at which transport secretary Chris Grayling said a failure to deliver High Speed 2 beyond Birmingham would be “a dereliction of our duties to improve the life chances of everyone in this country, an abandonment of our ambition for one of the most extraordinary engineering projects since the Victorian age and a huge betrayal of the people in the Midlands and the North.”

Responding to May’s letter, Peace said that the government had sent the Midlands and the North a strong, positive message, that “HS2 is happening”.

“HS2 is already a huge catalyst for growth, and it supports major upgrades to the existing rail network through the work of Midlands Connect and Northern Powerhouse Rail,” said Peace. 

“During a crucial transitional period for the country, and with the Comprehensive Spending Review due this autumn, it is our responsibility as business and civic leaders to keep making the case for HS2.

“It is essential to the economic futures of the Midlands and the North, and we are building our growth plans around it. Now is not the time to falter.”

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Readers' comments (2)

  • Great, if she is determined to do it, what can possibly go wrong?

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  • Philip Alexander

    Great comment.
    No wonder she's quite happy to spend £39 BILLION just to (half) exit the EU.
    She and her ministers are completely out of touch with reality. The Brexit remainers and leavers should be protesting outside Parliament against the real money sink that is HS2.
    It has no economic justification and the BCR will be less than 1.0 at anything over about £80 BILLION, which is pretty much guaranteed.
    We should have a referendum to find out the will of the people and then procrastinate for years whilst it gets built when 75% of the population would prefer the money to be spent on the existing rail network to make it MORE RELIABLE, not just faster. Absolute high speed really is not what rail users want, they want to be able to rely on a decent timetable being delivered and trains with enough seats on them to be able to sit down.
    The fares on HS2 will have to be so high to even make a dent in the capital cost interest charges that there will be plenty of seats available on their trains with the only users being those using business expense accounts and politicians.
    If only someone in the government or ministry would actually admit the truth about ridership and revenue, it would be obvious that each seat will need to be subsidized by tens of pounds per mile, yet more massive cost to add to the at least £100 BILLION construction cost. And who is going to build the 2.5Gigawatt power station to supply the project?

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