Posted 4th October 2023 | 8 Comments

Axe falls on HS2 to Manchester

The Prime Minister has told the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester that HS2 will not be built north of Birmingham.

 Scrapping Manchester leg will save £36 billion
► High Speed line to be replaced by a new Network North
► Phase 1 will be completed, and go to Euston, but …
► HS2 Ltd to be stripped of responsibility for Euston development

He said: ‘I am ending this long-running project. We will invest £36 billion in new transport projects in the Midlands and North, that will make a real difference across our nation.’

Mr Sunak said HS2 to Manchester would be replaced by a new Network North

With our new Network North, you will be able to get from Manchester to the new station in Bradford in 30 minutes. Sheffield in 42 minutes, and to Hull in 84 minutes on a fully, electrified line.’

The new Midlands Rail Hub will also go ahead, along with extensions to West Midlands Metro. Main roads will also be upgraded.

He added: ‘East West links are more important.’

He also reassured his audience that Phase 1 of HS2 will be completed, and that it will include London Euston.

A Euston Development Zone will be created, taking responsibility for the Euston development away from HS2 Ltd. 

Reader Comments:

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

  • Greg T, London

    It goes with everything this misgovernment is presently doing ...
    Smash everything up & leave their (Labour?) successor to sweep it up at vast expense
    Same with the environment, the canals, the health service, the legal profession & the NHS, yes?

    Look forward to more dual carriageways, motorways & flying

  • John Hartshorne, Stafford

    SHAMEFUL , I suggest he sticks to being a pub waiter, but not with Nations money.

  • Neil Palmer, Waterloo

    Politicians seem to think that if they announce they're buying you a new car 5 times the public is gullible enough to think they'll have 5 new cars.

  • Tim Stevens, Peterborough

    Cancellation of the Manchester leg of HS2 was probably inevitable, given the spiralling costs. But it seems Phase 1 has emerged intact, with a Euston terminus and a connection to the WCML at Handsacre (Lichfield). This will bring some relief to the WCML (with the fast Birmingham trains diverted to HS2), but will still cause a bottleneck north of Handsacre. Will the government now spend some of the money saved from HS2 by selective upgrading of the WCML in the Colwich/Stafford area?

    My main regret is that the HS2 Eastern leg from Birmingham to East Midlands Parkway has been ditched. For a relatively modest amount of new construction, this would have transformed rail journeys between the West and East Midlands, and longer-distance journeys from the South-West to the North-East.

    However, amongst all the negativity, the news that the North and Midlands are to receive significant rail and public transport enhancements is very welcome, although Labour have already pointed out that many of the "new initiatives" announced by Mr Sunak today, are in fact projects already in the pipeline.

  • Neil Palmer, Waterloo

    Have to correct a point made by John from London. 100bn plus has NOT been wasted here. Nowhere near that amount has been spent already.

  • Chris Jones-Bridger, Buckley, Flintshire

    Well having ducked the question the PM has had his moment to answer the question and as suspected no surprise in his answer. Perhaps though the more difficult questions both for him, his predecessors and ministers is how we got to this position. The PM presents himself as a figures guy happy in the company of spreadsheets and it has to be recognised that post covid the travel market has changed but by how much is probably too soon to fully evaluate. To base forward projections on the last few years is to be polite naive. The rail passenger market is still recovering from the pandemic and not helped by the ongoing industrial action that the government is being less than proactive to see a resolution. But even against this background operators such as LNER have been able to reinstate a full service with volume in excess of 2019 figures. For comparison the airline industry has had to face the same situation but most are working in a multi year framework to re establish pre covid volume and growth.

    Given the amount of physical work underway on Phase 1 it would have been an act of wantant vandalism to stop this. Also it's slightly reassuring that Euston will be the southern terminus. What does need urgent clarification as how much capacity will be built at Euston and where connection will be made with the classic network on the WCML. As envisaged HS2 absorbed Intercity services from WCMl, MML and ECML. If HS2 is only now envisaged as a WCML bypass what safeguarding will be made at Euston should further expansion of the high speed route does became a reality.

    It's nice that the PM has recognised that the Midlands and the North exist. However within these regions inter urban and inter city links, and that includes to the south, have been long neglected not least in the 13 years his party has been in office. (It is ironic the speech was in Manchester given the setbacks the city's rail network has faced with deferred and cancelled investments to unlock the bottlenecks). While HS2 has long been portrayed as a London centric project within the core network there was considerable scope to use the infrastructure to provide serious inter urban connectivity that didn't include London. The implication in cancelling Phase 2 of HS2 is that the funds released will be redirected to Northern Powerhouse Rail. However seen in the overall context much of this would be complimentary to HS2. As so much design work, land and property acquisition for the Crewe to Manchester section has already been committed how much of this can be salvaged and incorporated in what I suppose we must now refer to Network North.

    One crucial detail from the speech is that 36 billion will be released. The question remains where are the calculations and given HS2 is a multi year project what time frame are we talking about. Also given that it isn't so long ago that the Integrated Rail Plan was published how much will actually be new or just existing budgets finally allocated to well advanced projects. It's also clear that rather than being allocated to rail and public transport the funds will be applied to road.

  • Michael T., Reading

    Oh poor (RICHIE) Rushi...
    You so called decision is Tory-otally IRRELEVANT thing to say/do.
    Nothing is due to start/break ground over the next 14 months... so anyone whosoever were to win the next election can Instantly Reverse it and still be years ahead of when the YES NO YES NO YES NO YES ... makes any difference... LOL

  • John B, London

    What a shame. 14 years later and those doubters among us have been proved right: HS2 was a solution looking for a problem as Tom Harris pointed out all those years ago. Just imagine what could have been achieved with the 100bn plus wasted here: the equivalent of 283 Borders Railway projects. Just how was this project allowed to get so far without a decent business case?