The future of HS2 could be at risk, after levelling-up minister Michael Gove warned that ‘everything will be reviewed’ when he was asked about the gap in government funds.
He then named the high speed project as a possible candidate for savings, describing it as ‘a significant investment’, but gave no other details.
Some backbenchers have already been calling for HS2 to be abandoned. Mr Gove told Times Radio: ‘As a result of different factors, including mistakes that were made at the mini-budget, we have got to make some decisions which will be painful. When we face the particularly economic problems that we have at the moment, I’m sure that some capital spending will be cut.’
Meanwhile, the mayor of West Yorkshire Tracy Brabin is calling for an update on the £100 million Leeds Area Study which is examining ‘the most effective way’ to bring HS2 trains from East Midlands Parkway to Leeds, using the conventional network. Although the study was set up almost eleven months ago, it appears to be on hold.
The mayor said: ‘We’ve not heard a thing and it’s so disrespectful. It just shows the government’s commitment to the North that we still have no information at all on the study, even the terms of reference.’
The government has not commented on the Leeds study delay or Mr Gove’s remarks, saying only: ‘HS2 is under way, within budget, and supporting 28,000 jobs. The government remains committed to delivering it on time and to budget.
‘As the latest report to parliament sets out, current cost pressures are covered within the existing budget and we continue to identify areas where savings and efficiencies can be made.’