“The scrapping of the HS2 link to Manchester is the final nail in the coffin for high-speed rail in the North of England.”
“After more than a decade of promises, life-changing infrastructure upgrades which would have done so much to boost productivity and investment into the North have now been done away with at the stroke of a pen. We are now left with the same Victorian rail network that will simply not have the capacity to deal with demand over the coming decades.
“While a commitment to local connectivity is welcome, they follow very similar pledges made over the last decade. Scrapping HS2 from Birmingham to Manchester also removes the crucial piece of infrastructure to making Northern Powerhouse Rail viable – leaving us with the worst of all worlds.
“Business investment decisions in the North for more than 10 years have been made with HS2 in mind and vast swathes of employment land left undeveloped owing to their being earmarked for development for the line.
“All in all, this is a dark day for the North’s economy.”
James Mason, chief executive of West & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce
Shevaun Haviland, Director General of the BCC, said:
“Following recent speculation, businesses remained hopeful that the Prime Minister would listen to their calls to push on and deliver the long-term infrastructure this country needs.
“This is disappointing news for them and our economy as cancelling the second phase of HS2 will massively impact the country’s rail network.
“Without this vital additional capacity, any plans to improve the UK’s freight and passenger services will be restricted.
“We will be left with a rail system unable to effectively connect all our regional economies.
“Each HS2 train would have removed up to 129 lorries from the road, this will also be a lost opportunity to build a low-carbon freight transport system.
“And it will affect our global trade: one in four sea containers arriving or departing from a port is carried by rail, and additional capacity is urgently needed. When we talk about growth, we mean trade. Our global partners must trust that we can move not only at speed but with capacity.
“Businesses and regional governments will now be scratching their heads as they work out how to fill the hole left in their strategic plans by the loss of HS2’s further phases.
“Government must quickly set out the detail of its new plans, especially around timescales and the release of funds for the new projects it has put forward today.
“It must also urgently revisit the functioning of our planning system, as so much of the delay and cost around HS2 has come from its inability to cope with a large-scale infrastructure project. Let’s learn the lessons from HS2; let’s make sure these new promises are deliverable before we spend another penny of taxpayers’ money.”