Rishi Sunak has just announced the scrapping of HS2’s second phase to Manchester.
This was announced in a speech to ministers and party members at the Conservative party conference hosted in the same city.
The rail project was set to revolutionise consumers travel from the north of England to London was already estimated to cost over £55bn, with many reports suggesting that the final number will surpass all previous budgets.
Sunak said: “HS2 is the ultimate example of the old consensus. The facts have changed and the right thing to do is to have the courage to change direction.
“That is why the rest of HS2 is cancelled and in its place we will invest £36billion in hundreds of new transport projects in the North and in the Midlands.
“Our plan will provide far more growth than a train to London.
“There is nothing long-term about putting more and more money into one long-term project.”
With rumours circling over how financially viable the Manchester leg would be amidst HS2’s rising costs, Greater Manchester’s Mayor Andy Burnham has been clear on what this would mean – with people in the North “treated as second-class citizens again”.
On the updated projections for HS2s route, the new trains and track will span from London to Birmingham, with its east leg going on to East Midlands Parkway, although high-speed track will not reach Leeds. The same is now set to happen to the western route to Manchester.
However, the high-speed trains will still be able to travel to Manchester and Sunak has claimed that this will cut times by 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, a new Network North project will use the existing budget to connect northern parts of the country together in other ways.
Speaking to Sky News this morning, Burnham said: “I’ve never in my 30 years in politics seen a situation where a party comes to a city for its conference and leaves an axe hanging over that place for days and drops that axe as it’s about to leave.”
The PM hopes that Andy Burnham and himself can work together on a better system.