Green signal: the Government has given its backing to HS2.

Government gives ‘green signal’ for HS2

The Government has committed to build HS2 as part of what it is dubbing an ‘infrastructure revolution’, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced. ‘If we start now, services could be running by the end of the decade, so today the Cabinet has given high-speed rail the green signal’ Mr Johnson said. The Government says construction of Phase One between London and the West Midlands will begin in April.

The decision follows the review of the scheme Mr Johnson commissioned, led by Douglas Oakervee, which has now been published. However, the Prime Minister’s statement was laced with criticism for HS2 Ltd, and a number of changes will be made in response to the review’s recommendations. These include the appointment of a Minister to oversee the project and a new ministerial oversight group tasked with taking strategic decisions about it.

HS2 Ltd’s role will be redefined so it can concentrate on delivering Phases One and 2a of the projects, with new delivery arrangements to be created for the Euston terminus and for Phase 2b (Crewe to Manchester/West Midlands to Leeds). For the latter, a High Speed North masterplan is to be developed, integrating HS2 north of Birmingham, Northern Powerhouse Rail and other local improvements. However, Mr Johnson was clear that both HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail are needed, saying ‘it is not an either/or proposition’.

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