Transport bosses have called on the rail industry to make the business case for the northern half of High Speed 2 (HS2).
HS2 and Crossrail chair Sir Terry Morgan, transport secretary Chris Grayling and Transport for the North chief executive Barry White all urged rail bosses to “make the case” for HS2 Phase 2, connecting Birmingham with Manchester and Leeds.
All three agreed that Phase 2 “wasn’t in the bag”, after a growing number of politicians called for the project to be scrapped.
Earlier this month, Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg told New Civil Engineer that the route should be scrapped to fund local projects such as a bypass in Bath. Ex-foreign secretary Boris Johnson and leader of the House of Commons Andrea Leadsom have also called for the project to be axed in recent weeks.
As a result Morgan said that the industry needs to “fight” for the project.
“I absolutely do think that we still have a selling case to do for HS2,” Morgan said at the Railway Industry Association annual conference. “The truth is, that without the northern section of HS2 there isn’t a business case for the line at all.
“You wouldn’t do HS2 on the basis of Phase 1 [London to Birmingham] on its own. HS2 definitely needs Phase 2, otherwise it does not work.”
He added: “The North and the Midlands have got to fight for the case of HS2. We can always get more support from businesses. I would like to see more of a voice in support of HS2, like London First was for Crossrail. But then it is part of my job now to get businesses to be more engaged.”
Likewise Grayling urged the industry to get behind Phase 2 of HS2.
“This industry has got to help make the case for HS2,” Grayling said. “We have got to continue making that case for it.
“It will be a fantastic railway, one of the best in Europe but it still needs support if it is to definitely go to Leeds and connect to the Northern Powerhouse Rail.”
Meanwhile, White added that the North and Northern Powerhouse Rail is reliant on HS2 going up to Leeds.
He added: “There is clearly an increasing number of voices questioning HS2. I thought HS2 had done a good job in getting public support. But I think we all need to make the case for how important HS2 is to the North and to our business partners.
“It is very important to our plans for Northern Powerhouse Rail.”
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