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Friday, 23 October 2020

HS2: Leaked government report says project should continue in full

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The controversial high-speed train line from London to the North of England should proceed as planned, according to a leaked Government report.

Last year, Prime Minister Boris Johnson put the project on ice while a full review was carried out.

Now, the full and final version of that report has been leaked to the BBC, which reports that it ‘strongly advises against cancelling’ the scheme.

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It also says only building one section of the line between London and Birmingham ‘doesn’t make sense’.

A final Government decision is expected on whether to proceed in the coming weeks.

The idea is for the line to start in London and travel to Birmingham before splitting to form a Y shape.

The Western leg of the Y then goes to Manchester, while the Eastern leg passes through Toton before going to Leeds and Sheffield.

Numerous leaks in recent months have suggested the line could be limited, or scrapped altogether, in part due to spiralling costs.

According to the latest leaked review, the project could now cost up to double the official 2015 estimate of £56bn.

Business leaders and politicians throughout the Midlands and the North have voiced their support for the project, piling pressure on the Prime Minister not to reverse the scheme, and to make good on his promise to ‘level up’ areas outside London.

HS2 is designed to improve connectivity between England’s main cities, speeding up journey times and cutting congestion on current lines.

But it has faced considerable criticism ever since its inception over its environmental record, its ever-increasing cost and the time frame of its delivery.

However, the review reportedly recommends against scrapping it, saying HS2 would benefit the wider UK transport system, with no “shovel-ready” alternatives ready to go.

In recent months, it has been suggested that only the London to Birmingham part of the line should be built, but the report warns this would ‘not be value for money’.

It also says the scheme should be properly integrated with other regional transport strategies – such as Midlands Engine Rail – to achieve economic transformation.

Construction work has already been carried out in London and Birmingham, and around £9 billion has already been spent.

The government doesn’t have to follow the recommendations of the review.

The Department for Transport declined to comment on the report, and HS2 Limited has been approached for comment.

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