HS2 eastern leg set to be scrapped prompting calls to rethink project

Ministers have been urged to rethink the future of the entire HS2 project with a section of the line set to be scrapped.

Part of the controversial HS2 line is to be scrapped
Part of the controversial HS2 line is to be scrapped

As part of a new rail plan due to be announced on Thursday, the Government is poised to ditch the eastern leg of the budget-busting line between the Birmingham and Leeds.

Instead £96 billion of funding will be committed for new routes in the North and the Midlands, including one between Birmingham and East Midlands Parkway.

Campaigners have called for all sections of the line north of Birmingham to be cancelled. HS2, which is set to pass through 45 miles of Staffordshire countryside on its way to Crewe, has seen its budget rocket to north of £100bn.

Lichfield MP Michael Fabricant, a long time opponent of HS2, said: “The announcement of the scrapping of the eastern leg of HS2 was a long time coming and is a result of the costs and limited benefits of HS2.

"Unfortunately, when I have discussed the scrapping of the western leg, ministers tell me ‘it is too late for that as investment has already gone into that leg of the line’.

"I know that the West Midlands Mayor supports HS2, but, quite frankly, there are better and cheaper ways of providing connectivity to London and the north than a line which goes into a disconnected station, Curzon Street, and damages the countryside and ancient woodlands in its path!"

HS2 was given the go ahead in early 2020 after the Oakervee review said that despite issues around management and cost, it was still "much needed".

TSSA General Secretary, Manuel Cortes, said cancelling the eastern leg of the line "undermines the effectiveness of rail infrastructure investment programmes".

"It is a betrayal of northern towns, cities and multiple communities that would benefit so greatly from investment in high-speed rail," he added.

The future of the eastern leg has been in the balance for several months after Conservative MPs raised concerns about spiralling costs.

West Midlands Mayor Andy Street said: “Whilst I do not comment on newspaper speculation, it is no secret that I have always been in favour of building HS2 in full.

"However the economic situation since the Oakervee review has changed, and I would understand if plans for the eastern leg were to be re-evaluated."

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