February 11 2020 @ 16:19 by Richard Dawson
After months of deliberation and consultation, Boris Johnson’s Government has confirmed the HS2 high-speed rail project will go ahead as planned.
Question marks had been raised about the feasibility of the major infrastructure project after cost estimates spiralled far beyond the original £55 billion to well over £100 billion.
There was and still is also concerns about the effect HS2 could have on the environment and a feeling that the money could be better spent elsewhere.
But the need for better connectivity and the new Government’s desire to level up the UK’s regions meant that Mr Johnson was unwavering in his support for the project today (February 11).
The blueprint for HS2, when delivered, is based on being able to accommodate more trains per hour than any other high-speed line in the world.
With travel speeds of up to 224 mph, HS2 will also be faster than any other train service in Europe.
Phase one of HS2 will link up London with Birmingham with a high-speed line whereas phase two will be split into two parts – one line going up through Crewe and Manchester and another going up through East Midlands, Sheffield and onto Leeds.
Phase one is expected to be completed between 2028 and 2031. Phase two could be delivered between 2035 and 2040.
Jonathan Walker, assistant director of policy, North East England Chamber of Commerce welcomed the decision.
He said: “We have campaigned for HS2 to be approved and delivered as our members urgently need fast and reliable connections to their customers around the region and the rest of the country.
“The decision to progress this substantial rail project is great news for the North East.
“Any review of the later phases must be used to ensure HS2, Northern Powerhouse Rail and the East Coast Mainline are integrated properly, rather than seen as a chance for further delays.”