PM confirms northern leg of HS2 to be scrapped

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has announced HS2’s link to Manchester is to be scrapped. 

The government will now invest £36bn in other transport projects across the country.

The long-rumoured decision means the high speed rail line will end at Birmingham and HS2 Phase 2 to Manchester will no longer be delivered. 

Making his speech at the Conservative conference in Manchester, Sunak said spiraling HS2 costs would now be directed to build Network North and fund a raft of transport projects across the country. 

He said rail, roads and buses were to benefit from £36bn transport improvements in a fundamental shift to how government invests in transport infrastructure – unlocking potential faster in towns, cities and rural areas.

A further £12bn will be set aside to deliver fast links between Liverpool and Manchester.

He said the government will deliver HS2 between Euston in central London and the West Midlands as planned, with a station at Old Oak Common and Birmingham Interchange and branches to central Birmingham and Handsacre, near Lichfield – where HS2 trains for Manchester, Liverpool and Scotland will join the West Coast Main Line.

Sunak said: “Costs for HS2 have more than doubled since forecast – phase one was originally meant to cost £20bn but latest estimates are up to £45bn. And the project has been repeatedly delayed.”

He added: “More than four million people in cities in the North cannot currently reach their city centre by public transport within half an hour. This is detrimental to our productivity and economic growth. Yet the current HS2 project is preventing us from spending on the forms of transport that matter most to people.

“By scrapping it, every penny from the Northern leg of HS2 will go to the North and every penny from the Midlands leg to the Midlands.

“Rather than just connecting Birmingham and Manchester, we will invest £36bn in hundreds of projects in towns, cities and rural areas across our whole country, and in roads, rail, and buses – investment on a truly unprecedented scale that will drive economic growth and provide jobs.”

A reinvestment of £19.8bn in transport in the north includes projects such as: 

  • £2bn for a new station at Bradford and a new connection to Manchester.
  • £2.5bn to deliver a new mass transit system in West Yorkshire.
  • £3bn for upgraded and electrified lines between Manchester and Sheffield, Sheffield and Leeds, Sheffield and Hull, and Hull-Leeds.  
  • Nearly £4bn more funding for local transport in the North’s six city regions. 
  • A new £2.5bn fund for local transport across all areas in the North outside the six city regions – smaller cities, counties, towns and countryside.  
  • A new £3.3bn fund for road resurfacing.  

The Midlands will see £9.6bn reinvested.

This includes funding the Midlands Rail Hub in full with £1.75bn; more than £1.5bn local transport funding for the new East Midlands Mayor and more than £1bn extra local transport funding for West Midlands City Region.

There will be a new £2.2bn fund for local transport across all areas in the West and East Midlands outside the city regions plus the development of Midlands road schemes to benefit businesses and their employees at Rolls Royce, Toyota, and Magna Park, generating more than £12bn for the local economy.  

A further £6.5bn for the rest of the country will fund projects such as keeping the £2 bus far until the end of next year and £1bn to fund the electrification of the North Wales Main Line.   

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