West Midlands Mayor reacts to claims government plans to axe Birmingham to Manchester route
Andy Street speaks out amid claims that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is considering axing the HS2 Birmingham to Manchester route
and live on Freeview channel 276
The West Midlands mayor has defended HS2 amid claims Rishi Sunak is considering axing the second phase of the project to save money.
The Birmingham to Manchester section of the high speed rail development has already cost £2.3 billion which is unrecoverable, but £34bn could be saved if it is shelved, the Independent reports. The prime minister and Chancellor Jeremy Hunt met to discuss building costs on Tuesday (September 12), six weeks after a government watchdog warned it was “unachievable”.
At PMQs on Wednesday, MP for Lichfield Michael Fabricant complained about road closures due to HS2, describing the organisation as “the most dysfunctional” he has ever dealt with. He called for Rishi Sunak to restructure the firm and to end plans for phase two.
But West Midlands metro Mayor Andy Street, who has fiercely backed the project, has declared he “has no intention” of reconsidering. A spokesman for the Mayor said: “Andy fought tooth and nail to win this once-in-a-generation investment for the West Midlands, and he has no intention of reopening the argument.
“The fact is the project is happening right now, and driving significant levels of investment into Birmingham and the wider region. However it’s no secret that, as Europe’s largest infrastructure project, the scheme has struggled with cost and timescale.
“With that in mind it makes perfect sense for the prime minister and chancellor to keep it under review and regularly look at the best ways to deliver the project for the taxpayer. That is very different to ‘scrapping’ some or all of HS2. Remember, the business case only stacks up if the line is built in full – which is what will happen.”
A spokesperson for High Speed Rail Group, which represents companies involved in the build, said: “Once again the 30,000 men and women who are working every day to deliver HS2 will return home to find further speculation about whether they will be allowed to complete the job they have started.
“Were phase 2 to be cancelled it would be a disaster for the North and the Midlands. After 13 years during which the Government has promoted the project, it would also be the ultimate U-turn. The government needs to kill the speculation and make its intentions clear, and it ought to commit clearly and unambiguously to delivering the project as planned. The 30,000 people delivering HS2 deserve this. Our future generations deserve this. The North and Midlands deserve this.”