HS2 wins approval despite Northern leg facing a review

The Government will give its approval for the entire High Speed 2 (HS2) rail line to be built, but the northern phase of the controversial project is likely to be reviewed.

Reports this morning state a full announcement on the rail system linking London to Birmingham and Manchester and Leeds is expected by the prime minister later today.

It is understood the Government intends to look again at the second phase covering the North, in order to try and identify cost savings as well as integrating these lines into the existing railways.

In 2015, it was estimated HS2’s cost would be £56bn, but a review has since warned it could soar to as much as £106bn.

Reacting to the Government decision, Henri Murison, director of Northern Powerhouse Partnership, said: “The North’s civic and business leaders have argued tirelessly that major infrastructure investment is so badly needed to provide the extra capacity urgently required on our rail network.

“The Northern Powerhouse Independent Review on HS2 showed when published last year that there were no identified credible alternatives to HS2 and by better integrating the last phase with Northern Powerhouse Rail we will ensure that we get the maximum possible benefits.

“It is very encouraging that their recommendations are mirrored by the government’s own review published today.

“The Oakervee Review has set out how a process can begin swiftly for HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail to be best configured together to create a joined up new and upgraded world-class railway for the North.

“The government must accept this recommendation and wider report in full and commit to completing the whole network.

“Only then will we create the capacity we need to unlock the benefits passengers will see on a rolling basis over years, all building towards a network which will provide connectivity which is a pre requisite of closing the North – South divide for good.”

Chris Oglesby, chief executive of Bruntwood, said: “Business leaders across the North and Midlands will be breathing a sigh of relief now that HS2 has been green-lit.

“We cannot afford anymore prevarication or delay as there can be no ‘levelling-up’ of the UK economy without transformational new infrastructure projects outside of London and the South East.

“The focus now needs to shift on to how we can bring phases one and two forward as soon as possible and to providing the North with a whole network of modern, high-speed transport infrastructure that it needs to sustain future growth.”