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Shapps plays down Chinese rescue of troubled HS2 rail link

Transport | Published:

The Transport Secretary dismissed a claim by Beijing’s state-owned railway builder it could complete the project in just five years.

Artist’s impression of an HS2 train on the Birmingham and Fazeley viaduc

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has played down suggestions the Chinese state railway builder could be brought in to rescue the troubled HS2 project.

The China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC) wrote to HS2 Ltd last month offering to complete the project in just five years at a significantly reduced cost.

However Mr Shapps said there had been no contact between CRCC and the Department for Transport.

He dismissed the idea that the project – which is not due to be completed until 2040 – could be built in such a short space of time.

HS2 timeline.
(PA Graphics)

“They don’t have our planning system, they don’t have our legal system, they don’t have to respect people’s property rights in the same way,” he told BBC1’s The Andrew Marr Show.

“I really want to get this thing built faster if it is possible. But when you look at what is required, the contracts that need to be laid and so on and so forth – it is an enormous project.

“You are not going to build it in five years.”

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The Government last week gave the green light for the line – which will link up London, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds – to go ahead, despite running tens of billions of pound over budget.

Mr Shapps said that he was also anxious to use the HS2 programme to develop British construction skills and capabilities.

“I want to train up an entire new generation of youngsters with the skills that are required. We want some of that home-grown,” he said.

“I want British-built trains. I want the logistics, the organisation, the skills, to last for generations, not just to build this thing.”

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