HS2 future in doubt as review launched

25 Sep 2019 01:56
Published by: Scott Callan


TRANSPORT Secretary Grant Shapps has launched a review of high-speed rail link HS2 – with a decision on the future of the major infrastructure project set to be made by the end of the year.

The outcome of the review will have a major impact on the area – with the proposed line linking to a new station serving Manchester Airport. The plans include a new seven mile-tunnel in the Hale Barns area.

The review, which was followed by news of delays and rising costs, will consider whether and how the project to connect London, the Midlands and the North of England should proceed, looking at costs and benefits.

The terms of reference reveals that the independently-led government review will look at HS2’s benefits and impacts as well as its affordability, efficiency, deliverability and scope.

A final report will be sent to the Transport Secretary, with oversight from the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, by the autumn.

Boris Johnson has expressed doubts about the project, having said during his Tory leadership campaign that he wanted a full investigation into its costs and scope before deciding on its future. He spoke of his “anxieties about the business case”.

Mr Shapps said: “The Prime Minister has been clear that transport infrastructure has the potential to drive economic growth, redistribute opportunity and support towns and cities across the UK, but that investments must be subject to continuous assessment of their costs and benefits.

“That’s why we are undertaking this independent and rigorous review of HS2.”

However, Henri Murison, director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, described HS2 as a “vital project.”

And a spokesman for Manchester Airport owner MAG said: “The High Speed 2 line to Manchester will be a vital part of rebalancing the UK economy and creating better transport links to, from and across the North.

“It is imperative that both HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail are delivered as quickly as possible and connected by a hub station at Manchester Airport to realise the full economic potential of both schemes.”

He added:  “MAG would like see work on the northern leg of HS2 accelerated – and delivered in tandem with Northern Powerhouse Rail - to allow the benefits of better connectivity in the North to be felt much sooner.”

But Tatton MP Esther McVey has welcomed the review which she has been calling for, describing HS2 as a “costly scheme”.

She added: “I believe the case for HS2 has not been made and it leaves too many questions unanswered and therefore this independent review is necessary.”


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