Posted 10th October 2023 | 7 Comments

Mayor calls for scrapped HS2 land to be safeguarded

The mayor of Greater Manchester has called for land which has already been bought for HS2’s axed Phases 2A and 2B to Crewe and Manchester to be safeguarded.

The government has said the land will be resold, but Andy Burnham, who was speaking at a fringe event during the Labour Party conference, said the short timetable for a sell-off was ‘not acceptable’, and that the Prime Minister’s decision to abandon the route, announced six days ago at the Conservative Party conference, ‘mustn’t be allowed to stand’.

He continued: ‘We need to safeguard the land. We've been told that the Birmingham to Manchester land is protected for a matter of weeks but that protection will be lifted.

‘That does not give Andy Street [mayor of the West Midlands] or me or Tracy Brabin [mayor of West Yorkshire] or anyone else the time to look at whether that’s viable.

‘We need to actually work together. There should be a clear message that time should be allowed to look at Birmingham to Manchester to see if we can come up with an alternative solution.

‘When will Birmingham to Manchester ever get a good railway line if we throw away all the work that’s been done in the last 15 years?’

Delegates at the Labour conference backed a motion last night calling on the party to build HS2 in full if it is elected.

Although leader Sir Keir Starmer has declined to commit himself to rescuing the high speed project, Labour is promising to create ‘a comprehensive and well-developed plan by the next election’ for railways in the north of England that can be ready ‘from day one’.

Reader Comments:

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

  • Chris Parker, Milton Keynes

    Had HS2 been approached in an intelligent way rather than a political project maybe we might have more than an outer London to Birmingham relief line.
    HS2 is primarily a political project , secondly a construction project and a railway being a poor third. All of the "betrayal" and other political posturing needs to be put aside and common sense adopted.

    1. HS2 London Birmingham is not going to be scrapped, anti HS2 groups should accept it. I live on the door step of a site and it is years of disruption, for zero benefit. I want compensation not cancellation
    2. Review the HS2 rolling stock, is it now fit for purpose?
    3. We do not need a high speed route it makes no sense.we need capacity and speed is only one way of generating it.
    The route north of Birmingham should be re visited as a mixed 4 track scheme. We need flexibility to cater for freight and other traffic, not shiny sexy trains, most of which will be empty because of high fares.
    4. In the interim we need to look at ways of boosting the appeal of rail.
    a. High speed internet should be available on major lines.
    b Ways of enabling business to hold meeting or have confidential calls on existing services should be investigated.
    c signalling improvements and schemes to relieve existing bottlenecks prioritised

  • Greg T, London

    Neil Palmer is correct, in that the tories are following the Marples / Beeching / Serpell model, here.
    Just a collection of wreckers, looking out for loot.

  • John Porter , Leeds

    The scorched earth tactics of selling off land immediately, advocated by some politicians is most problematic regarding the southern end of Phase 2a and most understandable re the blighted properties near Rotherham.
    In the latter case it ought to be possible to do limited outline planning for a tunnel and if it is less than the cost of specific Green Tunnels on Phase 1, that parcel should be released before the General Election. Elsewhere it is wiser to wait for the Election.

  • Michael T., Reading

    In the year plus before the 2010 General Election... Any and ALL large project decisions made by Labour were put on 'pause' until after May 2010.
    The National ID Card Project was put on HOLD in January 2010.... awaiting the outcome of the General Election because the Tories stated they would if won, Axe it. They did axe it as their first act of government...
    Any and all LARGE Scale Project this near to the next General Election... we know the tories are going to be Eradicated from Parliament in 2024, therefore any decisions such as Ritchie Rich Rushi stating he is axing HS2 further norther than BIA/Birminghan NEC area.
    This should not be allowed to be changed from it's present course of works on the project until at least January 2025.
    The tories in 2010 did not follow the established protocols in election outcome in 2010, they went behind the back of the party in power (when no one has out right overall control)... seized government when there should have been days to weeks for the Existing Government of the Day to try to create a working government.
    This is the sort of underhanded, backhanded, lies, and THEFT that was allowed to occur because the UK Population does not understand how Parliament is Supposed to Function.
    Ritchie Rich Rushi should know that he is ineligible to cancel a project scheme that has been decades in the making this Near a General Election!

  • Neil Palmer, Waterloo

    Selling off the land acquired would match the equivalent level of stupidity of selling off closed lines under Beeching, and would be nothing short of sabotage for short term political gain.
    Also, as construction of phases 2A & 2B were authorized by an act of parliament shouldn't it require the same to cancel them, not just the short term political ambitions of a PM trying to hold to power?

  • Chris Jones-Bridger, Buckley Flintshire

    Maybe I'm being ultra cynical but it's gone unremarked that there is a by election in Tamworth imminent that on current predictions a seat Mr Sunak's government seems likely to lose. Let's be honest: politics is a popularity contest where invariably short term gains trump long term strategic vision. Besides since his conference speech the wheels have been coming off the PM's transport announcements that increasingly look like they were cobbled together for impression rather than a coherent strategy.

  • Tony Pearce, READING

    I would suggest that Keir Starmer doesn't want the problem of HS2 in his 'in box' when he takes over. He is probably delighted to see it go and Rishi get the blame. He wouldn't want anything 'safeguarded'.