Legislation for northern branch of HS2 delayed
LEGISLATION needed to extend the new high-speed rail line (HS2) from Birmingham to the north of England has been delayed by a year, it has been reported.
The blow comes as the man spearheading the second phase of the huge infrastructure project has quit the role to take on a new job in Canada.
The Department for Transport (DfT) said it was important that the £55.7 billion project “takes full account” of Northern Powerhouse Rail, the scheme to boost rail connections from east to west across northern regions.
The second phase of HS2 will see high-speed services leave Birmingham and head to Cheshire and the North West and Yorkshire via the East Midlands.
The first phase between Birmingham and London is due for completion in 2026 and the second phase in 2033.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling announced last summer that the tabling of a bill in Parliament for phase 2b, which runs from Crewe to Manchester and Birmingham to Leeds, would take place in 2019.
But the Government is preparing to pause this until 2020, according to reports.
The DfT would not confirm the delay but issued a statement, saying: “In order to maximise the huge potential of HS2, it is important to make sure it takes full account of the emerging vision for the other transformative project of Northern Powerhouse Rail.
“Phase 2b of the railway will connect the great cities of the North to boost jobs, housing and economic growth and remains on track to open in 2033.
“We will update Parliament as part of our consultation this autumn.”
In a separate announcement, the DfT said that Paul Griffiths, managing director of phase two of HS2, is to leave the post at the end of this year.
He has been appointed as the new program director of the $40 billion Metrolinx program in Toronto, said to be the largest public transit investment in Canadian history.
Mr Griffiths joined HS2 in 2015 and has been responsible for working with central government and local stakeholders to plan and develop the route for phase two.
Meanwhile, more than £10 million in new funding has been secured to spend on transport and infrastruc- ture work in Solihull ahead of the arrival of HS2. The West Midlands Combined Authority has awarded £10.2 million to the borough to support a number of schemes including key route improvements, sustainable travel and new technologies including low carbon energy and electric and autonomous vehicles.
These transport projects will sit alongside associated commercial and residential development and will fit into wider regional investment from HS2, Highways England, Transport for West Midlands and the Midland Metro Alliance.
Central to these plans is improving the links between the town and ‘ The Hub’, the area near Birmingham Airport where the new HS2 Interchange station will be built.
Some of this new funding will also be used in Solihull town centre to help develop plans for an integrated transport hub including an upgraded train station, new homes and Grade A office space.
> An artist’s impression of HS2