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Government Commits To HS2
After much speculation about the fate of the HS2 rail connection, the government has confirmed that the project will go ahead.
Boris Johnson and his cabinet have now given their approval to the whole project, which is designed to deliver a high-speed rail line from London to various parts of the north of England
The Guardian reported that Mr Johnson intends to put a minister in charge of the project, after claiming that the company that’s been in charge of HS2 thus far has “not made the task easier”. He also stated that the minister in charge will be full-time in the role to prevent “further blowouts” in the budget, which could spiral above £100 billion.
One change announced this month is that HS2 Ltd will lose control of the Euston station redevelopment work, which means that Old Oak Common will be the station where the high-speed trains are likely to terminate for a number of years.
Meanwhile, the newspaper also reported that a new body could be established to oversee and deliver phase 2b of the project. This is the section of the line that runs from Crewe to Manchester and the West Midlands to Leeds.
The new body will be called High Speed North, which will also take control of the Northern Powerhouse Rail project if it’s set up.
Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham has welcomed the announcement, but told the newspaper that there is still a lack of detail over how the project will progress in the north of England.
He has called for a timetable for the Northern Powerhouse Rail project, as well as for the HS2 spurs that are set to go to Leeds and Manchester.
The Yorkshire Evening Post explained that the whole HS2 project has been divided into multiple phases, with phase one not due to be completed now until 2029. Originally, all three phases were due to be delivered by 2033. However, this has now been moved back, with the project not expected to be finished until 2040.
Among the stations due to be affected by the construction of part 2b of the project are Leeds, Newcastle, Sheffield, Lancaster and York.
However, the newspaper also revealed that in a recent poll it conducted, 69 per cent of people living in Leeds don’t believe that the HS2 project should go ahead.
In fact, it revealed that 99 per cent of people in Leeds want to see local transport links in the city improved, rather than faster trains linking it with the capital.
But with the government’s backing, it appears likely that construction on the new rail link to the north will continue. As well as constructing the track itself, there will also be work carried out on the stations HS2 will serve to ensure they are able to cope with the new high-speed trains.
A recent review of the project produced by Douglas Oakervee recommended continuing with the project because there is still a need for better rail connections to the north of England, while pulling the plug could also have “serious consequences for the supply chain, the fragile UK construction industry and confidence in UK infrastructure planning”.
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