Next phase of HS2 high speed railway brings construction to the north

HS2 London

The HS2 Phase 2a: High Speed Rail (West Midlands to Crewe) Bill has been given Royal Assent today, cementing in law the government’s commitment to bring the controversial new high-speed railway to the north.

The act of Parliament was passed exactly a year after ministers gave the project the green light and will allow HS2 Ltd to begin work to construct the next phase of the new high-speed railway between Crewe and Birmingham.

According to the government, construction of the first stage of the project between the West Midlands and London is already underway and now supporting more than 15,000 jobs and 500 apprenticeships.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “Whatever your view of this project, HS2 is now a reality – heading north, creating jobs and building a brighter future for our country. This vital project is at the heart of the government’s commitments to build back better from the pandemic, tackle the north-south divide and drive growth across the country.

“The signing of the Phase 2a Bill into law is a historic milestone for this ambitious project, which is already creating and supporting thousands of jobs across the UK. I look forward to seeing spades in the ground to get this section built and deliver the benefits of high-speed rail to the north as swiftly as possible.”

Industry reaction

Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “HS2 was always going to be a game changer for the West Midlands, but the jobs and economy aspect of the scheme has taken on even more significance in light of the pandemic. HS2 will be a key anchor of the region’s recovery plans, with our latest research suggesting the knock-on effect of HS2 could eventually generate 175,000 jobs and more than £20 billion of investment. These are extraordinary numbers, which shows just how critical it was to win the argument for HS2. With thousands in the West Midlands already employed and working on the project, HS2 is making a critical difference to people’s livelihoods right now.”

Councillor Craig Browne, deputy leader of Cheshire East Council, said: “This is a hugely important milestone in bringing high-speed rail to Crewe. HS2 is a strategically important project and will drive increased business confidence to invest in Crewe – creating opportunities to not only enhance the town, but also the wider borough, through the jobs, services and improved opportunities it can provide. We are committed to maximising the significant benefits the scheme will bring and it is more important than ever as we support our local economy to bounce back from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Working with our strategic partners, we are continuing to push forward with multiple projects to transform Crewe and the wider area, and ensure it is ready for HS2’s arrival, including our proposals for Crewe Hub station.”