Posted 14th September 2023 | 8 Comments

HS2 to Manchester is set to be axed, reports claim

A newspaper report is claiming that HS2 between the West Midlands and Manchester is set to be axed.

The Independent alleges that the Prime Minister and Chancellor have discussed cancelling Phase 2 to release money to fund tax cuts before the next election.

It would be the second time that the project has been reduced, after HS2 to Leeds was cut back to East Midlands Parkway in November 2021.

Construction of Phase 1 between London and Birmingham is continuing, but the section between Euston and Old Oak Common is also in doubt, after construction was officially paused for two years in the spring, amid confusion and debate over the plans for High Speed platforms at Euston.

During Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons yesterday, Lichfield MP Michael Fabricant asked: ‘HS2 is the most dysfunctional organisation I have ever had to deal with. Will the Prime Minister, in the short term, try to restructure HS2 so that it works as a company should? In the longer term, can he save other constituencies by stopping HS2 at the end of phase 1?’

However, Mr Sunak said only that he understood the ‘frustrations’ that HS2 construction was causing in Lichfield, and that ‘the Transport Secretary will continue to hold [HS2] to account’.

Phase 1 between London and Birmingham was planned to open in 2026, but that is now not expected to happen until 2029.

Reader Comments:

Views expressed in submitted comments are that of the author, and not necessarily shared by Railnews.

  • Michael T., Reading

    Typical Tory Election Trope vehicle... Cut 'essential' infrastructure to fund tax cuts. They have already proven they can hit the Quantitive Easing Button over and over and over on the Magic Money Tree money printing Bank of England. Thus tax cuts, tax increases are Irrelevant. Covid proved it was possible to spend Trillions of gbp... as long as the bulk of it ended up in tory donor's pockets!
    Anything cut by the typical tory nasty party on their way out can easily be reversed and have Funding Increased by Any Other Party but Tory morons.
    We have what will be almost 15 years by December 2024/January 2025 of Stagnation on Essential Infrastructure.
    IF we had built at the rate China has proven Possible, we could have already had HS2, 3, 4...12... HS25 before 2020 (covid). With another two dozen High Speed Railway Projects, it would be possible to connect any two urban conurbations in the UK and Eire and BENELUX/Northern France in under Two Hours. This would have had the benefit of only requiring One and a back up airport for Long Haul International Travel. When can get from Inverness to Plymouth in under two hours... there would be no need for short distance planes/flights other than to connect to Islands without a road/rail connection.
    People KNEW what and Who they were voting to have when they ticked the Blue Box with the same enthusiasm as the tories clicked the Bank of England QE button. So the only ones to blame for our Stagnation are you the voters so easily sold snake oil by various village idiots. LOL

  • Helmsman, Hull

    The worst thing to do to any construction project is to make changes once construction has got underway. It’s like removing the scaffolding from a house while it is still being built. No wonder things fall apart.

    HS2 has been an unmitigated disaster from day one. It ticked all the wrong boxes and joined up all the wrong dots. It doesn’t serve Heathrow AP or link up with HS1; it runs into three dead end stations in Birmingham, Leeds & Manchester (or original intention was to, and Curzon St is not even plugged into the main network); and it requires two different train sets to operate.

    A five year old with a toy train set could have come up with something better!

    The latest changes like the previous ones have made it an evenly more unbelievably botched useless project. Sadly, HS2 has given the high speed rail cause a bad name (and will probably damn it for all time, certainly as far as the UK goes).

    This was a POLITICAL (and a vanity) – not a railway or business – project, which accounts for why it was so badly put together and ill thought out. This is what happens when politicians run things, and you can be damn sure they won’t be held accountable for this shambles, or have to pay back the squandered billions. On the contrary. They will continue to stumble and stagger one from one cock up to the next . . .

    The lesson to be learned from the HS2 debacle is that if you do anything – do it properly or not at all.

  • Chris Jones-Bridger, Buckley Flintshire

    Typical political short-termism. The dregends of a government seeking marginal votes at the next election.

    Network Rail is having to spend increasing amounts of it's budget maintaining infrastructure approaching two centuries old. From conception HS2 was envisaged to relieve the stress on aging infrastructure when the Inter City services were transferred.

    As ever in Britain vision is dampened by short term budget cuts. Easy to draw comparion with our public transport avoiding Prime Minister & the current school concrete scandal where as Chancellor his finger prints have been found over decisions to withhold funds for repairs.

  • david C smith, Bletchley

    It seems this is inevitable. The wrong development in the wrong place, already into "negative cost / benefit".

    We were told that the main reason for it was capacity relief south of Rugby , with High Speed as a bonus. Capacity could have been increased through re building / relaying the ( ex Great Central) conventional line north from Calvert , junctioning onto WCML just south of Nuneaton , togetherwith a "beefing up" south of Calvert with Marylebone or Paddington ( utilising a rebuilt Ashenden - Grendon link) as passenger termini and Neasden for freight,. Rough estimated cost £ 5 to 6 bn.

    Speeds higher than 140 mph are not neccesary for Euston to Manchester / Liverpool / Birmingham , as 140 mph allows all these to" beat the plane " centre to centre already. On the other hand , Glasgow to Euston is too far, involving big expense between Carnforth and Glasgow.

    If it is needed, to build a version of HS2 that is more cost - effective, then an East Coast Alignment could do the job . with expense curbed through using 3 or 4 200mph "cut offs" built through open country . This could serve West Yorkshire / Teesside / Tyne and Wearsides en route to Edinburgh and to Glasgow ( Glasgow line to be taken from Edinburgh line direct to Glasgow , not via Waverley / Haymartket ) via a junction south east thereof.

    Costs of such, at most £ 30 to £35 bn, with estimated London - Edinburgh in 2 hrs 55 minutes, and Glasgow in 3 hrs 17 minutes.

  • John B, London

    Wonderful news if it proves to be true. All work on phase 1 should immediately cease pending a full review by the National Audit Office.

  • Greg T, London

    The tories - smashing everything up, again, deliberately, so that the next government will have to spend 150% of the available time, just sweeping up the chaos

  • John Porter , Leeds

    Experienced Ministers don’t get snapped outside Downing Street by accident. Perhaps the HS2 Hybrid Bill Committee has hinted it is sympathetic to Manchester’s arguments for a through HS2 station costing an extra £3 billion. That and the cost of faster Leeds services could be the straws to break the camels back.
    The cheaper way of increasing HS2 Piccadilly capacity is to design for some NPR services to skip Piccadilly (about £300 million) and passively provide for extra underground platforms at a later date.
    That can squeeze an extra HS2 train into the 2 HS2 platforms, speed up Leeds to London, Heathrow and Birmingham Interchange for Coventry, Reading & beyond and at least every third Euston to Manchester (by 7 minutes) - within HS2 Phase 2b & DfT’s NPR core network.

  • Tony Pearce, Reading

    Covid changed so much in UK, - from WFH to not using cash. It has had an effect on everything and the Railways are facing many upheavals because of it. Everything is under scrutiny.