Industry reacts to HS2 approval

Boris Johnson has given the go-ahead in the House of Commons today to the High Speed 2 rail project, a move welcomed by regional business leaders – with caveats.

After weeks of speculation over the fate of the controversial scheme, which has been beset by spiraling costs and environmental concerns, the prime minister said the entire scheme would be delivered.

Roger Marsh, chair of NP11, the Northern Powerhouse business group, and Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership, said:“The confirmation that HS2 will be built in full is a very welcome step in helping to transform the North’s critical infrastructure. HS2 is a major part of ongoing efforts to rebalance the national economy and will unlock further opportunities for the North to become a key driver for UK growth.

“In particular we welcome the commitment to delivering the eastern leg, which is critical to ensuring the full benefits of the scheme are felt across the North. We understand the need to review how this is delivered and have made the point previously that one option is to build from the North.

“The time for talking is over. We all have a stake in the successful delivery of an integrated, modern transport system, fit for 21st century Britain. Now is the time for us all to pull together and get behind this transformative scheme to ensure that its benefits are felt in the towns across the North.”

Last week, The Wildlife Trusts delivered a letter to the Prime Minister calling for the project to be reappraised. The letter was signed by 66,000 people. Nikki Williams, The Wildlife Trusts’ director of campaigns and policy, said: “Nature is paying too high a price for HS2. We urged the Government to re-consider in the light of The Wildlife Trusts’ report which evidenced the serious risk that HS2 poses to nature – and to take notice of over 66,000 people who wrote to the Prime Minister asking him to review HS2. Today’s announcement means that it is more critical than ever that the whole project is redesigned – before HS2 creates a scar that can never heal.

“It is vital that HS2 does not devastate or destroy irreplaceable meadows, ancient woodlands and internationally important wetlands that are home to a huge range of wildlife, from barn owls to butterflies. Green and sustainable transport is vital, but the climate emergency will not be solved by making the nature crisis worse.

“As HS2 contractors get on with bulldozing and building, the public can help wildlife by being alert to works near them. Contact your local Wildlife Crime officer if you believe HS2 Ltd or contractors are undertaking works without permission. Wildlife Trusts along the route will continue to advise and engage with HS2 Ltd locally.”

James Heather, development director at U+I, the regeneration company leading Manchester’s transformative £1.4bn Mayfield development, which is located next to Manchester Piccadilly station, said: “HS2 is crucial to the future of our regional economy and the announcement today will remove the uncertainty over this landmark infrastructure project.

“Transport spending per head in the North already lags behind the South East so this investment in HS2 and hopefully also in Northern Powerhouse Rail is vital if we are serious about rebalancing the economy and moving to a more sustainable future.”

Chris Manka, North West regional chair of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “It is welcome that at long last a decision has been made to proceed with HS2, although we naturally have some concerns about the proposed future review for onward connections to Manchester and elsewhere.

“What we don’t want to see is the wider Northern area merely getting the leftover crumbs from the plate, and ultimately a second-class system compared to the south. We are desperately in need of a ‘levelled up’ railway system, with much greater capacity, and vastly improved connectivity east/west, that will help deliver more sustainable travel for all.

“Government and local stakeholders must now ensure that whatever HS2 ultimately looks like here, that we also get a future proof system able to meet the needs of users whichever direction they are travelling.”

Promotional video from HS2 Ltd

Dominic Pozzoni, director in the Manchester office of Colliers International, said: “The announcement that HS2 will go forward is key to unlocking investment opportunities across the UK and supporting the Government’s plans for regional economic rebalancing. Despite a history of faltering HS2 promises, the UK regional cities have been growing over the last decade as major corporations moved out of the costly capital to more affordable areas, sparking regeneration and an active commercial real estate market.

“This commitment sends a clear message that the whole of the UK is crucial to our collective economic success, just as new regulatory freedoms are now available to support UK businesses and economic development, now that the UK has left the EU. Regional UK governments increasingly appear to be aligned with central government thinking, hence a new optimism is not misplaced. Good intentions look very likely to be followed by concrete progress.

“While we understand the need for costs to be tightly managed and kept under control, any review of the proposed HS2 route between Birmingham and Manchester needs to be completed as soon as possible to ensure businesses and communities in the North West and further afield benefit from this investment in game-changing infrastructure.”

Guy Lawson, regional director of the Civil Engineering Contractors Association, said: “The Government must now take steps to deliver on its promises and unleash investment in a range of schemes to level up the economy and deliver growth in the North West.

“The Government’s priorities must include the full delivery of HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail, which will transform the economic geography of the North West, creating new opportunities for businesses and communities alike.

“In terms of targeted investment, we would like to see a commitment to upgrading the Cumbria coast rail line, which would support the new mine near Whitehaven, as well as opening up other employment opportunities in West Cumbria.”

A Manchester Airport spokesman said: “Delivering an integrated High Speed North rail network will fast-track the rebalancing of the economy. The station at Manchester Airport, acting as a hub for the new network, will ensure millions more people across the North and the Midlands have access to high speed rail services and international markets.

“MAG welcomes the Government’s decision today. Planned correctly, HS2 together with High Speed North will provide an integrated high speed rail network direct from Manchester Airport to Liverpool, Leeds, Sheffield, Hull and the North East, and unleash the full potential of the Northern economy.

“The sooner High Speed North can be delivered, the better. Starting on its delivery quickly would mean that the North, as well as the South, benefits from new rail connections and capacity as soon as possible.”

Andy Burnham, mayor of Greater Manchester, said: “The Prime Minister has today listened and gone a considerable distance towards the case I made at the weekend for a new, integrated East  – West – North – South railway for the North of England. That is why I welcome what he has announced today.

“However, there are a number of issues on which we are seeking further clarification.

“First – Manchester Piccadilly. While we support HS2 in principle, it was designed as a North – South railway and consequently has never offered right solution for new, modern East – West links at Manchester Piccadilly. There is now an opportunity to get that right and we ask the government to work with us on a redesign of Manchester Piccadilly station, based on analysis commissioned by Sir Richard Leese and Manchester City Council.

“Second – timetable. The Prime Minister gave a firm timetable for HS2 from London to Birmingham, however there was no such commitment for the North. We want to see the construction of Northern Powerhouse Rail fast-tracked, in line with the commitment the Prime Minister made in Manchester shortly after entering office. We cannot be left waiting years for this investment and the resulting jobs.

“Third – line of route for Northern Powerhouse Rail. While we were pleased to hear mention of high-speed rail to Liverpool we notice that Prime Minister did not mention Bradford. This is important because the Bradford route means that Northern Powerhouse Rail will be a brand new line serving Liverpool, Manchester Airport, Manchester Piccadilly, Bradford and Leeds – which is the clear preference of Northern Leaders.

“Finally, big promises on future infrastructure must not distract from the need to urgently upgrade our creaking Victorian railway, which is ruining journeys on a daily basis. The creation of two new platforms at Piccadilly is a shovel ready project that will benefit the whole North. The government needs to stop dragging its feet on this and get these platforms built.”

Your Comments

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I’m a big fan of Boris Johnson but I don’t think HS2 or NPR are a good idea at all.

By Floyd

An excellent project freeing up immense amounts of capacity for our congested railways. With HS2 and NPR taking express trains onto new rails, we’ll have more capacity to run more frequent local and commuter services across northern England.

By Anonymous

Is a review another term for kicking the link to Manchester and Leeds into the long grass?

By Elephant

The spokes always benefit the hub, never the rim. That’s why hubs always want more spokes. Just ask airports. As long as London decides, all roads will lead to London. They’ve fooled us Northern ‘dopes’ again. It’s too easy — they must be bored by now.
And what about that Northern Hub thingamajig our Overlords and Masters promised us: one rail bridge over a ditch at Ordsall.
Is that it?

By James Yates

Try as I might I cannot comprehend how this will benefit the vast majority of rail users – particularly those using vital branch lines. Whatever time saved on a journey from London will be eaten up with a longer wait at Piccadilly or wherever.
I suppose the scheme will be a draw to multinational companies wanting quick access to London from cheaper premises further north, but at this rate Birmingham gets several years head start.

By MP3

Manchester locals would prefer a platform 15/16 at Picadilly!

Platform 13/14 is a joke. To only have one line going from liverpool/preston into manchester picadilly is absurd.

Question is, is another platform even viable with all the development along the line?? (Home cinema etc)

By Luke

Good news! Let’s work for a sensible route to Liverpool via Warrington and Speke, and then on to Bradford, Leeds – and ultimately Hull – via Manchester Piccadilly.

By Red Squirrel

I generally support the idea of HS2 but it has all the hallmarks of a project that will get to Birmingham and stop, be it due to money or a change in Government. If the HS2 started in the North and worked back towards London I would be a little less suspicious. Regarding MP3’s comment, my understanding (correct me if I’m wrong) is that the benefit is not the passenger aspect but the removal of freight from local lines to the HS lines which in turn will free up local capacity greatly. My partner’s parents live with a main train line running behind their house and the vast majority of (noticeable) railway traffic is freight not local passenger services, I imagine commuting into Manchester on less crowded trains would be easier if that was freed up from passengers…

By Aevis

The absence of a postive quote from anybody in Liverpool says it all. Even Leeds gets a mention here. Like all other northwest institutions PNW is quite happy to throw Liverpool onto the sacrificial pyre as and when it suits. The city will gain nothing but disadvantage of HS2.

By North Shore

20 years to deliver 30/40 year old technology! We should be looking at pioneering tech and not trains! Virgin Hyper loop would take people from Manchester to London in around 20-30 minutes! That’s what we should be looking at – rail serves a purpose, but for new, fast lines we should be looking to the future not the past!


Johnson slams HS2 management but, instead of calling the police in, he cuts them a £100bn cheque.

I would say this is his first big test failed. If this is his level of gumption, he has no chance of doing what’s necessary to keep in power next election.

By Mike

Could someone explain how HS2 to Birmingham and a proposed line to Manchester and Leeds will benefit Liverpool let alone Newcastle, Durham, darlington, Carlisle, Blackpool, York etc? Or does the north finish at Leeds? With or without HS2 there most certainly needs a West-East line running through Piccadilly. My personal view is that HS2 will stop at Birmingham because of costs, change of leadership etc.

By Old Hack

Thank you By Aevis, I hadn’t appreciated the contribution removal of freight trains could make. The ones I am most familiar with and think of are really slow and heavy pulling stone from the quarries or loaded with shipping containers and need to trundle along at a very steady pace. Before Beeching our local line had third and fourth lines to accommodate such slow trains whereas we now have wider embankments.

By MP3

Although not (yet) all the way into the centre of Liverpool, Liverpool will be on HS2.

By @NorthShore

come on, who in London does not want to be in Crewe in 50mins.

By cheshire lad

Liverpool is an Atlantic facing port, and is the best placed UK port for trade with the rest of the world outside Europe. The American ambassador was in the city yesterday and was very impressed with city’s diverse economy. We need East-West and North-South high-speed rail linked into Liverpool as a priority for the sake if the northern and national economy, and that is what we will get. It frees up all the other lines for freight and commuters. Manchester will benefit as much as Liverpool, our port is linked into the heart of GM.

By Liverpolitan

Manchester is happy to take anything that Liverpool has not regardless , HS2 will not go any further than Birmingham and that is the truth

By Anonymous

Old Hack has a point. I don’t think it is ambitious enough. It should go from Leeds via York and Newcastle to Edinburgh and then it should go from Manchester via Preston, Lancaster and Carlisle to Glasgow. There should also be a line linking Birmingham with Bristol and Cardiff. A line from Liverpool to Crewe is now the most likely outcome for the NPR.

By Elephant

As someone who travels at least once a week to London on business – I have never yearned to get there a little more quickly and at more expense.

If this is the sum total of our Government’s ambition for the North nothing will change and more activity will be drawn south.

It is sad that local politicians are so timorous that they will take anything offered by Central Govt (even if it is a dumb idea) simply on the basis that any kind of money spent must be a good thing. With such binary and simplistic thinking it is hardly any wonder that our services and infrastructure are crumbling. The glibness and simplicity of these political “leaders” enthusiastically enabled by simpering media outfits is depressing

By A Developer

I’m not sure Liverpool being a port really warrants it being on HS2. HS2 is for commuters, businesspeople. Not dockers. Southampton is a far larger port than Liverpool and there is no high speed connection to Southampton.

I do think HS2 should go to Liverpool, just not sure it being a dock/port city is the best justification for that

By Anonymous

@Anonymous (re: Liverpool), I don’t want to appear rude, but that really is one of the least accurate portrayals of a city I have ever read. It’s 2020 not 1920. There are probably not much more than a hundred dockers in Liverpool these days as most of the port is automated by crane drivers/stevedores. The vast majority of people in Liverpool work in other industries. So to claim that Liverpool shouldn’t get HSR because they are dockers not businessmen is quite simply bizarre at best. If anything, a high speed link in Liverpool is even more essentual today to ensure the city keeps evolving from a port-based economy. HS2 or NPR would remove express trains off the current tracks, freeing them up for more reliable commuter services plus improve freight rail. The question really is not so much does Liverpool need high speed rail (it does) but more so on how it gets it. Does it get the link from HS2 (unlikely now) or via NPR with HS2 connection (most likely). The question then is this enough?


@A Developer, I think you have completely missed the point of HS2. It has nothing really to do with speed. Faster trains is just the outcome of a more modern railway network. Yes, it will get you to London quicker (and not just a little, it will halve the journey time) but the real reason it is needed is capacity and this will make a HUGE positive impact for the North. Here is how:

1) HS2 will take the fast trains off the existing rails and then allow those to be used for local services. Most of our train delays and cancellations in the north is because slow trains have to share lines with fast trains. This is crazy as fast trains have priority and whenever something goes wrong, the slow trains become seriously delayed or cancelled. Remove the fast trains and then you have almost instantly a much more reliable system with the ability to increase frequency.

2) We also need NPR (HS3 across the North from East to West). This does the same above for East/West lines, but we need HS2 infrastructure to complete NPR as NPR will connect to and use parts of HS2 plus the expanded HS2 stations which are in the HS2 budget! If you take away HS2, all these bits will still need to be built and skyrocket NPR costs, but not provide all the benefits that both lines will provide.


Won’t. Ever. Get. Built

By MAncLad

If there is a really valid reason why this cannot be done then I’m sure someone will let me know – As the cost of HS2 is increasing by the day, and as they say time is money.

Would it not make sense to start the project simultaneously at both ends? For example start in Leeds and Manchester, have 2 teams starting from Birmingham one going north and the other going south and the final team starting in London going north. This way all the teams will meet in the middle of their sections and we might get the thing finished before the 30 year timescale….wasn’t this the way they built the channel tunnel.

By Manc Man

Liverpool and Manchester are about 30 miles apart. HS2 to Liverpool should be the same as HS2 to Manchester. The previous proposals spurred off to Manchester south of Warrington – in the middle! The Northern Powerhouse rail will connect all these spurs together, job done! We just need to make sure ‘High-Speed North’ is to the same standard as HS2. If we are to achieve agglomeration benefits and truly grow the northern economy Liverpool and Manchester need to start acting as one on this.

By Liverpolitan

Huddersfield is 30 miles from Manchester. Should that be on HS2 as well?

By Anonymous

As Johnson hates my home city, we’ll just get p*ssed on, yet again. Just like the nearly £500m that the Council has lost from its grant since 2010, Tory hate rearing its ugly head. Hardly surprising is it that Liverpool City Council has not one Tory member, all Liverpool constituencies return Labour MPs, there are few Tory voters here. It’s politics, not economics, that rule the roost.


By Liver lad

Stop trolling Anonymous, Liverpool is vastly larger than Huddersfield. In fact when fair criteria are applied there is only about half a million difference in the size of the two city regions.

By North Shore

@Anonymous Liverpool city region has a population of 1.2 million, Huddersfield is just over 162,000. So no, stop being irrational.

By L17

The town suburbs of Northwich are going to be annailated by HS2. in its southeastern suburbs
we are getting HS2 with no station! to the west of the town we have the west coast mainline and in our northern suburbs they are planning Hull to Manchester to Liverpool with no station am sorry but enoughs enough! all of these projects are favouring the big boys where as towns like Northwich get all the train lines which destroy or suburbs but with no real benefits!

Whats the point of having HS2 if it doesnt stop!

We’ve been waiting for the Manchester airport line to Northwich for years now joining up at Mobberley
its only 3 miles to the airport station from mid cheshire line! how long do we have to wait!

By Northwich

Q: Wonder why they decided to build the first stage FROM London to Birmingham rather than Birmingham northwards?
A: Well theres two reasons;
(a) because London would then have to use whatever funding was left to try and construct their side. This would mean that ultimately, they would end up with a second rate line and second rate facilities (and the ‘London mafia’ dont want that!)
(b) in order to get enough funding to avoid the aforementioned second rate facilities, London would have to wait about a thousand years, meaning it wouldn’t actually get built anyways (and the ‘London mafia’ certainly wouldn’t accept that either!)

By NotLondonCentric

@Manc Man, re: start at both ends: That really is a good question, the short answer no… but here is why (as it should be a yes). In reality, it should have been planned that way from the start, If they had, we could indeed start from both ends. The problem is that the current government had neglected planning in the North and as usual, just concentrated in the South. Because of this, the southern bit is ready to start but the northern bit is not even on the drawing board. The northern bit is also more complicated as it needs to take into account NPR (the East West link between Liverpool/Manchester/Leeds etc). This needs to seemlessly integrate with HS2 to work properly (parts of NPR require HS2 to be completed), so planning needs to be done to ensure stations like Manchester and Leeds can accomodate both lines in an effective way. This could be fast tracked if Westminster really cares about the North, so it is possible that we could start the norther bit before Phase 1 is completed, but we couldn’t start them both at the same time


Education needed down the M62 on how a big city with a Siperport actually works, mind you how would they know living in a landlocked city with partly stole river .

By Anonymous


By Anonymous

Why is Liverpool struggling so much compared with Manchester and Leeds?

By Floyd

@Floyd that’s just it ….it”s not come and take a walk round and you will see that Leeds Mancheayer are struggling and are ugly

By Anonymous

Lol Liverpo struggling keep you head in the 80’s bird bird brain , I personally dont like Leeds or Manchester and am from London .
Just because London has granted you permission for a rail line that will not deliver , you think you have won the lottery lol that’s how pathetic and deluded you lot are , Liverpool blows both cities out of the water ,Leeds looks like Sheffield and Sheffield looks like Manchester , Liverpool is used as a filming hub to match London New York , we build cars and ships and the fastest growing economy outside the Capital , dont believe hear say in boring mill town riddled with crime and poverty .

By Francess

If Liverpool is struggling so much then how come when I’ve been to Leeds and Manchester every looks like they need a good wash and a makeover , your deluded to think Liverpool is stuck in the 80s but in reality your dress sense actually is #premierleague #champoinsofeurope

By Anonymous

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