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Official: HS2 Northern leg is cancelled

PM Rishi Sunak has confirmed he’s cancelling “the rest of the HS2 project” – meaning everything outside the London to Birmingham leg, which is already under construction.

Sunak now says “we will reinvest every single penny” saved from HS2, which he says is £36 billion pounds, in new transport projects in the North and the Midlands, and across the country, including “Network North.”

Under the Network North plans, Sunak claims rail users “will be able to get from Manchester to the new station in Bradford in 30 minutes, Sheffield in 42 minutes, and to Hull in 84 minutes on a fully electrified line.”

Sunak added: “Every region outside of London will receive the same or more government investment than they would have done under HS2, with quicker results.”

As for the Southern leg of HS2, Sunak confirmed that it will now travel all the way to London Euston – the rumours ahead of his speech were that it would terminate at Old Oak Common in London’s Western suburbs.

The Euston extension will no longer be managed by HS2, however, with anew Euston Development Zone to be created. “There must be some accountability for the mistakes made, for the mismanagement of this project,” he said.

The PM added that, although HS2 will no longer be extended to the North, the existence of the Southern leg will still cut journey times between Manchester, Birmingham and London by 30 minutes.

Sunak went on to list a long (and some might say car-heavy) list of planned transport developments that will be funded through the HS2 cancellation, including:

  • Protect the £12bn to link up Manchester and Liverpool as planned – this won’t be with high-speed rail
  • Build the Midlands Rail Hub, connecting 50 stations
  • Help West Midlands Mayor Andy Street extend the West Midlands Metro
  • Build the Leeds tram, electrify the North Wales main line
  • Upgrade the A1, the A2, the A5, the M6
  • Connect the A75 boosting links between Scotland and Northern Ireland
  • Fund the Shipley bypass, the Blyth relief road and deliver 70 other road schemes
  • Resurface roads across the country
  • Bring back the Don Valley line
  • Upgrade the energy coast line between Carlisle, Workington and Barrow
  • Retain the £2 single bus fare cap nationally

Sunak also directly addressed Conservative West Midlands Mayor Andy Street, who was reported to be considering resigning over the cancellation of the Manchester-Birmingham HS2 link this morning. The PM insisted that, despite their different views on HS2, they “can work together” to ensure quicker trains and more capacity between Birmingham and Manchester.

Greater Manchester’s Labour Mayor Andy Burnham, who last night took to Newsnight to bemoan the government’s lack of consultation with Northern leaders over its HS2 plans, was conspicuous by his absence in Sunak’s speech.

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