The government have finally approved the immediate construction of HS2 from London to Birmingham any beyond.
In typical government fashion, the route north of Crewe is ambiguous. It seems from the Prime Minister’s statement, that the line north of Crewe will be wrapped up into the “Northern Powerhouse Rail” project – a new rail route crossing from east to west and linking Liverpool, Manchester and Leeds amongst others.
Although, with that said, the uncertainty has been lifted, and the line is now being built, as far as joining the West Coast Main Line to the north of Lichfield.
The leader of Birmingham City Council, Cllr Ian Ward, said; “I welcome today’s news that the Government intends pressing ahead with the London to Birmingham stage of HS2, but it’s disappointing that the second stage to link Birmingham with the North faces yet another review.
“As I made clear to Douglas Oakervee when he launched his review, the people of the Midlands and the North have been neglected for far too long and HS2 is a once in a generation opportunity to rebalance the UK economy.
“HS2 will free up capacity on the rest of the rail network, improving connectivity within – and importantly between – our cities. It will also shift more freight onto rail – an important step towards zero carbon emissions.
“So, while today’s news is welcome, the simple message for the Government now is to Get HS2 Done. Let this be the end of the delays and uncertainty.”
General Secretary of the RMT Union, Mick Cash addded; “This Government has dithered over this decision for far too long which has meant uncertainty and delays to this vital rail project.
“Now that they are on the point of giving the go-ahead the Government and HS2 must take steps to ensure that jobs on the project are directly-employed, with union agreements, a safe workplace, and without the scourge of blacklisting.”
“While we await the details of the full package it is essential that the Government guarantees that the Northern route of HS2 is not downgraded and commit to investing in an affordable, accessible and publicly owned railway fit for the 21st Century”
The West Midlands Rail Executive tweeted an important aspect of the decision to go ahead with the project – that more capacity will become available on the West Coast Main Line once express services are moved over to HS2.
Personally, I believe that there has already been too much delay with the project, and that the full commencement of construction shouldn’t be delayed any longer. Spades should be digging the ground in earnest and right away.