THE government intends to deposit the bill for Phase 2b of HS2 early next year or sooner if possible, according to HS2 Ltd CEO Mark Thurston.
The 'western leg' of Phase 2b covers the section between Crewe and Manchester, and the authorising Bill for this will follow the Phase 2a Act for the West Midlands to Crewe, which received Royal Assent in February this year.
In a letter to the Independent Residents' Commissioner, Mr Thurston says the government 'intend to deposit the Bill in Parliament in early 2022 or sooner if possible, subject to their Integrated Rail Plan, which is due to be published this year'.
The IRP has been delayed, and no firm date for its publication has been announced yet, although it will have important implications for the future of Northern Powerhouse Rail as well as the eastern leg of HS2 to the East Midlands and Yorkshire.
On 28 June, HS2 minister Andrew Stephenson told the House of Commons: 'As for the content of the integrated rail plan and the recommended way forward for the NPR programme, final decisions are yet to be made and Ministers continue to look very closely at the evidence, including that provided by Transport for the North and leaders from the north and midlands.'
Meanwhile, HS2 Ltd has been criticised in the past for its treatment of some property owners on Phase 1 between London and Birmingham, and Mr Thurston has moved to quash any concern about the next phases. He said: 'We are committed to continuing our engagement with residents to keep them informed, providing opportunities to hear their views, and responding quickly to their queries and concerns.'