1 November 2022, London Marriott Hotel County Hall
21 November 2022, Hilton London Metropole
November 2022, Virtual
Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin has confirmed that construction will start on the HS2 rail link next year.
McLoughlin used a speech in Leeds to dismiss media reports about HS2’s future and stressed that work would start on the controversial rail project in 2017.
The first phase of HS2 will link London’s Euston with Birmingham by 2026 before a second phase of high-speed track will branch out in a Y-shape from the West Midlands to both Manchester and Leeds by 2033. The project is currently set to cost £42.6 billion.
“I know there have been various reports in the papers about whether HS2 is going ahead, and whether it is going to Leeds and going to Manchester?” said McLoughlin.
“I can tell you that it is going to Leeds and it is going to Manchester because we are totally committed to the whole of the high speed network.”
McLoughlin emphasised that the project would allow businesses to “access new markets” and “draw their employees from a much wider catchment area”, which may lead them to consider moving offices away from London.
He added that there were signs of this already happening and cited HSBC’s decision to relocate its retail banking headquarters from London to Birmingham.
“We’ve seen blue chip companies, for example, choosing to move to HS2 cities,” said McLoughlin.
“We will be building something much bigger than a new railway. We’ll be investing in our economic prosperity for the next half century and more.
“There will always be pressure to look at costs and to make sure we’re getting the best value for money – it would be insane not to do so.”
McLoughlin was speaking at an event to launch a study by the Independent Transport Commission (ITC) looking at the “regeneration and transport benefits” of high-speed rail.