Prime minister Rishi Sunak announces that high speed line won’t go north of Birmingham – but ‘every single penny’ saved will be invested in transport

The government has scrapped HS2 north of Birmingham

After a long and intense period of speculation, prime minister Rishi Sunak finally announced that his government is scrapping HS2 north of Birmingham this week.

Addressing the Conservative Party conference in Manchester, Sunak revealed that the high speed line would no longer be extended to Manchester. He claimed he had taken this decision in response to the scheme’s spiralling costs and changed post-Covid travel patterns.

Instead he said that “every single penny” of the £36bn saved would be invested in a range of transport schemes, across the entire country.

In the north of England, these investments are improved East-West rail links across the north of England, a £700m bus funding package, the Leeds tram and the reopening of the Don Valley Line.

Our plan will drive far more growth and opportunity in the north than a faster train to London ever would

“Our plan will drive far more growth and opportunity in the north than a faster train to London ever would,” said Sunak.

In the Midlands, the government is proposing to fund the Midlands Rail Hub and the extension of the Midlands Metro.


Elsewhere, there is a new £2.5bn fund to transform local transport for smaller cities and towns, the extension of England’s £2 bus fare cap until December 2024, and a range of projects for new roads.

Norman Baker, from Campaign for Better Transport, commented: “This ragtag and bobtail selection of bits and pieces – some of which no doubt have merit – will not compensate for the hammer blow that has been delivered today.

“By cancelling the Northern leg of HS2, the prime minister has taken much needed rail investment and ploughed it into yet more roads.”

This article appears in the latest issue of Passenger Transport.

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