CBI calls HS2 ‘vital’ and urges government to build it ahead of review
Date published: 22 October 2019
Photo: Google, DigitalGlobe
HS2 will service Manchester Piccadilly Railway Station, seen here from above
The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) Chairs in six English regions, including the North West, have joined together to urge the government to back and build the HS2 rail line.
In a joint statement released on Wednesday 16 October, they state that HS2 is vital to the UK’s future prosperity: “Businesses need HS2 to be built in its entirety, linking the East and West of the country as well as bringing the North and Midlands closer together.”
High Speed 2 (HS2) is the proposed new high-speed railway directly connecting Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham and London, funded by UK taxpayers. HS2 is being designed to operate initially at 360 kilometres per hour, faster than any other train in the world.
Two new HS2 tracks to Manchester Airport and Manchester Piccadilly are expected to create space for additional train paths on the corridors to Crewe and Stockport, providing options for more frequent local or regional services.
Phase one, the section between London and Birmingham, was due to open at the end of 2026, but could now be between 2028 and 2031, with a staged opening, starting with initial services between London Old Oak Common and Birmingham Curzon Street, followed by services to and from London Euston.
The second phase, from Birmingham to Manchester and Leeds, has also been delayed.
Dealing with the current news that HS2 could be scaled back or the Eastern Spur could be scrapped, the CBI states that: “A scaled back version of HS2 will not deliver the improved connectivity across the country that businesses are crying out for.”
The intervention comes ahead of the government review of HS2 expected later this week, and the groups are urging the Prime Minister to offer unwavering support to the project.
The CBI says HS2 will create half a million jobs, stimulate housebuilding along its route and support much-needed investment across the Midlands, North and beyond.
Commenting, CBI Chief UK Policy Director Matthew Fell said: “The unequivocal message from CBI Regional Councils spanning all parts of the proposed route is back it, build it, benefit from it.
“HS2 is the key driver for the future economic growth of the Midlands and The North. As well as critical east-west links which have been often neglected. HS2 will help us change that and we cannot put this at risk.
“Any watering down or cutting of this critical scheme will threaten the massive benefits of the scheme. It is time to be bold and deliver this scheme in full.”
In contrast, Penny Gaines, Chair of the Stop HS2 campaign, which is opposed to delivering the scheme, said: "In the last two months it has been revealed that HS2 is vastly over-budget and massively behind schedule and yet the CBI is refusing to acknowledge that there are any downsides to the project.
“Part of the review was to look at alternatives to the existing program schedule for HS2, and this have been dismissed out of hand by the vested interest lobbyists at the CBI. With a price tag of £80 billion and rising, any suggestion that the scope would actually be increased is laughable.
“HS2 is simply the wrong project for the country."
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