MPs have given the go-ahead to the next phases of HS2, with the Bill approving the building of HS2 Phase 2A north from the West Midlands to Crewe achieving Royal Assent.
Parliament’s approval for this new phase of HS2 plugs the line into one of the country’s principal rail hubs in Crewe. It also means the 58km (36miles) route will be built earlier than originally planned, enabling towns and cities across north western England, north Wales and Scotland to benefit sooner, with the opening now planned to coincide with Phase One between London and the West Midlands.
Prime minister Boris Johnson said: “HS2 is the most significant expansion to our national railways in a generation – transforming connectivity between our towns and cities and vastly increasing the capacity of our rail network. By proceeding full steam ahead, we are delivering on our commitment to unite and level up the country. The construction of Phase 2a will support thousands of jobs and create opportunities for local businesses as we build back better.”
The decision has been described as a major economic boost to the UK, supporting around 5,000 jobs to build Phase 2a, with many more in the supply chain. In addition, the railway will support 140 permanent jobs at its maintenance base near Stone in Staffordshire.
Welcoming the decision, HS2 Ltd CEO, Mark Thurston said: “Parliament’s approval for extending HS2 beyond the West Midlands to the North is a clear sign that MPs recognise the enormous potential of this scheme and continue to give their strong support. As the first major railway built in the North for over 100 years, HS2 will spur massive economic growth for our towns and cities, help to level up the country, and provide cleaner, greener public transport for millions.
“As construction starts, this new phase of work will very quickly support 5,000 jobs in the North, with many more in the supply chain, further cementing HS2’s critical role in Britain’s economic recovery from the pandemic.”
Darren Caplan, chief executive of the Railway Industry Association (RIA), said: “This is great news, not just of course for the railway industry but also for the UK, its long term connectivity and economy. It is another step towards transforming the rail network, unleashing jobs, investment and economic growth around the country at such an important time, whilst ensuring we have capacity for the future.
“The railway industry is already delivering on this scheme, and it looks forward to working with government, HS2 Ltd, and other partners, in the months and years ahead, to enable the project to be delivered effectively and efficiently. Now let’s get on with the Eastern leg too, to deliver the full network and the maximum benefits which the entire HS2 scheme provides.”
A spokesperson for the High Speed Rail Group (HSRG), said: “HSRG have long highlighted the significant impact Phase 2a will have on line of route towns and beyond. As we look to the future, we look forward to seeing the next HS2 phase under development, the Western Leg from Crewe to Manchester, progress. But we must ensure that we develop a high speed rail network that delivers for the whole of Britain. This includes the areas that will be served by HS2’s Eastern Leg, where the project will also bring with it a wealth of investment, skills and job opportunities, to communities that need them most.
“HS2, and high speed rail more broadly, will have a transformative impact on our country. We must ensure that we continue to build on the momentum of today’s milestone to build back better as a stronger, greener Britain.”