Rail Industry Urges UK Prime Minister to Commit to HS2 Phase 2

The High-Speed Rail Group has published a letter signed by representatives of 21 businesses urging the UK Prime Minister and Chancellor to commit to Phase 2 of the HS2 project to Manchester.

The letter has been published in response to recent speculation that the second phase of the high-speed rail line, connecting Birmingham to Manchester, may be cancelled.

It refers to this speculation as “deeply alarming and destabilising to the industry” and thus calls on the government to reaffirm its commitment to delivering HS2 Phase 2.

Artists impression of an HS2 train
Artist’s impression of an HS2 train
The letter, which is addressed to the Prime Minister and Chancellor, states:

“As you know, nothing is more important in business than certainty and confidence. That is the basis on which we invest and we grow, and the basis on which we employ people and develop their skills.

“Delivering big infrastructure properly means committing in the long term, giving certainty to the businesses building it and planning to rely on it in future. At the Autumn Statement, only 10 months ago, the Chancellor committed unequivocally to HS2 Phase 2, stating that “smart countries build on their long-term commitments rather than discard them… so today I confirm that… we will deliver… HS2 to Manchester.”

“We agree that you were right to make this long term commitment. Discarding it now will have serious implications for the UK economy... The renewed speculation over the last week has been deeply alarming and destabilising to the industry as a whole. It is a particular blow to the 30,000 people working to deliver this vital infrastructure each and every day, and the many thousands of businesses in the North West who are currently investing in the area based on HS2 reaching Manchester.”

The letter highlights the detrimental economic impact of cancelling HS2 Phase 2 and argues that the reputation of the UK as a place to invest and do business is at stake.

Additionally, it also notes that the scope of the project has already changed three times in the last three years. This has included the removal of the Eastern Leg, the removal of the Golborne Link and the deferral of other works, including the extension of the line to its Euston terminus. It argues that each of these changes increases costs and weakens the business case.

The letter concludes:

“We ask that you move urgently to quell the speculation and reaffirm your commitment to the delivery of HS2 Phase 2, from Manchester to Euston in full, to sustain the growth in widespread economic benefits this project is already delivering.”

The letter is signed by the following representatives:

  • Colin Wood, Chief Executive, AECOM
  • Alan Brookes, Global CEO, Arcadis
  • Richard Robinson, UK and Europe CEO, Atkinsréalis
  • Xijun Cao, President and CEO, British Steel
  • Chris Rumfitt, CEO, Field Consulting
  • Nigel Milton, Chief of Staff and Carbon, Heathrow
  • Dyan Crowther, CEO, High Speed 1
  • Michael Hird, Chair and Owner, Hird Group
  • Darren James, Chief Executive Officer, Keltbray
  • Paul Goodhand, Managing Director, Knorr-Bremse Rail Systems (UK) Ltd
  • William Wilson, CEO, Linbrooke Services Ltd
  • Mark Reynolds, Group Chairman and CEO, Mace Group
  • Charlie Cornish, Group CEO, Manchester Airports Group
  • Darren Caplan, Chief Executive, Railway Industry Association
  • Lucy Prior MBE, Chair, Railway Industry Association SME Group
  • James Bain, Chief Operating Officer Europe, Worldline and Chair, Rail Supply Group
  • Rob Morris and Sambit Banerjee, Joint CEOs, Siemens Mobility
  • Thomas Faulker, Executive Vice President, Skanska UK
  • Nick Salt, CEO, SYSTRA
  • Andy Bell, VP, Thales GTS UK
  • Alan Robertson, Chair, VolkerRail

The published letter can be read in full here.

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