Rishi Sunak scraps £36bn northern leg of controversial HS2 line

The Prime Minister told the Conservative Party annual conference that the 'facts had changed' over the project.

Rishi Sunak has confirmed he is cancelling the northern leg of HS2, claiming the “facts have changed”.

The Prime Minister told the Conservative Party annual conference at the Manchester Central convention complex that the northern part of the high-speed rail line would not be going ahead as planned.

Instead, he said he would spend “every single penny” of the £36bn saved from scrapping the northern leg of HS2 on new transport projects in the north and Midlands.

He told Tory conference: “This means £36bn of investment in the project that will make a real difference across our nation.”

The PM added: “As a result of the decision we are taking today, every region outside of London will receive the same or more government investment than they would have done under HS2, with quicker results.

“No government has ever developed a more ambitious scheme for northern transport than our new network north.

“This is the right way to drive growth and spread opportunity across our country, to level up.”

Rishi Sunak has said “we will protect the £12bn to link up Manchester and Liverpool as planned and we’ll engage with local leaders on how best to deliver that scheme”.

He added: “We’ll build the Midlands Rail Hub connecting 50 different stations, we will help Andy Street extend the West Midlands Metro, we will build the Leeds tram, we will electrify the North Wales mainline, upgrade A1, the A2, the A5, the M6.

“We will connect our union with the A75, boosting links between Scotland and Northern Ireland.”

He also said the Government will deliver “70 other road schemes”, “resurface roads across the country” and “keep the £2 bus fare across the whole country”.

Sunak added that the government “will complete the (HS2) line from Birmingham to Euston”, given how far along construction is.

The Prime Minister told the conference: “Our plan will drive far more growth and opportunity here in the north than a faster train to London ever would.”

He continued: “HS2 trains will still run here to Manchester and journey times will be cut between Manchester, Birmingham, London by 30 minutes. And I say this to Andy Street, a man I have huge admiration and respect for, I know we have different views on HS2.

“But I also know we can work together to ensure a faster, stronger spine, quicker trains and more capacity between Birmingham and Manchester.”

On HS2, Rishi Sunak has promised a major new development around Euston station will save £6.5bn compared to HS2 plans.

He said: “The management of HS2 will no longer be responsible for the Euston site. There must be some accountability for the mistakes made, for the mismanagement of this project.

“We will instead create a new Euston development zone building thousands of new homes for the next generation of homeowners, new business opportunities and a station that delivers the capacity we need.

“And in doing so, for the first time in the lifecycle of this project, we will have cut costs. The £6.5bn of savings that Mark (Harper) and I are making will be taken from the Euston site and given to the rest of the country.”

Rishi Sunak challenged opponents of his transport plan to say they would cancel the projects he announced in his conference speech.

He said: “For too long people in Westminster have invested in the transport they want, not the transport the rest of the country – particularly the north and the Midlands – wants and needs.

“And to those who disagree, who will focus on what I have stopped, I ask you to consider what we have just created with Network North.

“An alternative which in place of one delayed and overrunning project will now begin hundreds upon hundreds of new projects, large and small, road and rail, bus and train covering the whole country that will be delivered faster, that will see every region receiving more investment than they would have done.

“You can’t have both, so those who wish to disagree with me, I respect that. But they should have the honesty to admit that they would now be cancelling the hundreds of alternative projects right across the country that people will benefit from instead.”

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