The chair of Transport for the North has described the government’s decision to scrap the Birmingham to Manchester leg of HS2 as “naturally disappointing.”
“It’s undeniable that this will be seen by many as a missed opportunity for the region, and the country as a whole,” he said.
Criticism of the plan’s cancellation has been widespread, including by some prominent Conservatives such as West Midlands mayor Andy Street.
Lord McCloughlin reiterated what many observers have commented, that the decision was made without consulting a large number of stakeholders and leaders involved.
He said: “Only last week, northern business and political leaders came together at our TfN Board to speak with ‘one voice’ to reaffirm our position that HS2 and NPR [Northern Powerhouse Rail] in full are vital to truly transform the North.”
His response to the decision further emphasised the lack of clarity to the government’s proposed ideas which would replace HS2.
He said: “There are still quite a few areas that require further clarification from the Department for Transport, which we will be seeking from them.”
However, he welcomed the announcement of £36bn worth of investment in other transport projects across the UK, which Prime Minister Rishi Sunak presented as the government’s alternative to continuing with HS2.
Transport for the North aims to work with the government to ‘fully understand the implications’ of these new policies and the ‘best way forward’ for transport in the region, Lord McCloughlin added.
The costs of the major transport project spiralled beyond expectations and the debate over its future became a faultline within the Conservative party itself, before it was ultimately scrapped during Sunak’s keynote speech on Wednesday.
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