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Economy Economy

Continue investment in the High Speed 2 rail project

Last updated: 12:19pm 15 October 2019

We will continue our programme of strategic national investments, including High Speed 2, Northern Powerhouse Rail and the expansion of Heathrow Airport…

Conservative Party Manifesto 2017, p.23

Our verdict

In January 2009, following a report on railways modernisation from the Department for Transport, the government formed High Speed Two Ltd. (HS2). The company is in charge of developing and promoting high-speed rail networks for the UK. The project currently covers two main routes. The first, Phase 1, authorised in February 2017, will connect London to the West Midlands. The second, Phase 2, will cover West Midlands, Manchester and Leeds. The government has promised to continue to invest in the HS2 programme.

In July 2017, the government introduced the High-Speed Rail (West Midlands to Crewe) Bill into Parliament. This is to authorise the next part of the HS2 network, known as Phase 2A. Since then, the bill has been changed three times in response to scrutiny from the Commons Select Committee. It is currently being considered by the House of Lords.

Ahead of preparing an authorisation bill, the second section of the project, Phase 2B, has been subject to consultations on environmental impact, ending in December 2018, and on design refinement, concluding in September 2019.

In March 2019, the Sunday Telegraph disclosed that an order to proceed, due to unlock up to £27 billion for the first phase of the line, was delayed by six months amid concerns it could not be delivered within the current budget.

In August 2019, the government announced an independent, cross-party review into how and whether to proceed with Phases 1 and 2 of the HS2 project. It is due to be published in Autumn 2019.

The government is working to provide a legal framework for HS2. Nevertheless, funding delays – if confirmed – would mean the government has at least temporarily stopped investing in the project. In addition, the outcome of the cross-party review could pave the way for a policy reversal. Based on the legal effort and the consultations, we consider this ‘in progress’. It will be updated to ‘done’ if we have evidence to confirm further funding, or to ‘broken’ if the policy is scrapped. Follow this policy for updates.

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