Talks are set to take place between transport secretary Mark Harper and the city Mayors of Birmingham and Manchester, when they will present a plan to rescue HS2 north of the West Midlands to Crewe and Manchester by introducing private investment.
Phases 2A and 2B were axed by the Prime Minister last October, on the grounds that they were too expensive.
He also scrapped the remaining link to the East Midlands, which was originally intended to continue to South and West Yorkshire but was then terminated at East Midlands Parkway. Work on the link from Old Oak Common in west London to Euston has also been ‘paused’ for two years, while the government investigates the possibility of private sector funding.
Mayor of Birmingham Andy Street was speaking to the BBC when work began at Curzon Street yesterday, which will be the central Birmingham terminus for HS2.
He said the proposals being laid before the transport secretary included a dedicated line between Birmingham and Manchester, but that it was ‘highly unlikely’ to be the same as the discarded HS2 design, and he did not rule out an upgrade to the existing West Coast Main Line rather than construction on a new alignment.
He added that the research had been approved by the Prime Minister but further details are unlikely to be revealed, at least until after next week’s meeting with the transport secretary.
However, Mark Harper did say that he would ‘listen with an open mind’ to the Mayors’ proposals, which have been in preparation since December. The group carrying out this work is chaired by former Network Rail chief executive Sir David Higgins.