HS2 legislation will be delayed by 12 months – report

Legislation needed to extend HS2 to Manchester and Leeds will be delayed by 12 months, it has been reported.

The Department for Transport (DfT) said it is important that the £55.7 billion project “takes full account” of Northern Powerhouse Rail, which is a scheme to boost east-west rail connections across the region.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling announced last summer that the tabling of a bill in Parliament for phase 2b – running from Crewe to Manchester, and Birmingham to Leeds – would take place next year.

But the Government is preparing to pause this until 2020, according to The Times.

The DfT would not confirm the delay, but issued a statement which said: “In order to maximise the huge potential of HS2, it is important to make sure it takes full account of the emerging vision for the other transformative project of Northern Powerhouse Rail.

“Phase 2b of the railway will connect the great cities of the North to boost jobs, housing and economic growth, and remains on track to open in 2033.

“We will update Parliament as part of our consultation this autumn.”

The development comes as Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is travelling on the Northern Powerhouse Rail route to highlight his party’s commitment to provide at least £10 billion to fund the scheme.

Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council and member of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, claimed it is “imperative” that HS2 is opened in northern England as scheduled.

She said: “Any delay in the process which will deliver HS2 to the North is concerning and it is essential that this does not have a knock-on impact on the timetable for construction or the opening of the eastern leg.”

Phase 1 of HS2 – running from London to Birmingham in December 2026 – was approved 18 months ago. A bill for Phase 2b from Birmingham to Crewe in 2027 is currently going through Parliament.

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