The UK’s Secretary of state for Transport, Mark Harper, has announced that HS2’s Birmingham to Crewe leg will be delayed by two years to cut costs, and that the Lower Thames Crossing will also be delayed for two years.
In a government statement a on March 9th, Harper said: “During this Parliament there has been a step change in public investment in infrastructure. The Autumn Statement protected the public capital budget at record levels, meaning government will invest over £600 billion over the next five years. The Chancellor has announced over £40bn of capital investment in transport across the next two financial years, which will drive significant improvements to rail and roads right across our country.
“Since agreeing this programme, we have seen headwinds from inflation, triggered by the impact of Putin’s illegal war in Ukraine, as well as supply chain disruption as the global economy recovers from the effects of Covid-19.
“To date we have spent over £800M on planning the Lower Thames Crossing. It is one of the largest planning applications ever, and it is important we get this right. We remain committed to the Lower Thames Crossing, and the Development Consent Order process will be an important opportunity to consult further to ensure there is an effective and deliverable plan. In order to allow time for this process, and given wider pressures on RIS, we will look to rephase construction by 2 years.
In rail, HS2 is making good progress, and we have already spent over £20bn delivering Phase One between London and the West Midlands. The Government is prioritising HS2’s initial services between Old Oak Common in London and Birmingham Curzon Street to provide delivery of passenger benefits as soon as possible. We remain committed to delivering HS2 services to Euston, and will address affordability pressures to ensure the overall spending profile is manageable. We will therefore take the time to ensure we have an affordable and deliverable station design, delivering Euston alongside high-speed infrastructure to Manchester. We continue to take the High Speed Rail (Crewe – Manchester) Bill through Parliament, and the Crewe-to-Manchester section will also form the foundations for improved rail services in the North through Northern Powerhouse Rail.
The Government is committed to delivering HS2 Phase 2a between Birmingham and Crewe. We have seen significant inflationary pressure and increased project costs, and so we will rephase construction by two years, with an aim to deliver high-speed services to Crewe and the North West as soon as possible after accounting for the delay in construction. Work continues on progressing commitments made in the Integrated Rail Plan to develop HS2 East, the proposed route for HS2 services between the West and East Midlands, and to consider the most effective way to take HS2 trains to Leeds. HS2 continues to represent a very significant investment into our national infrastructure, levelling up communities right across our country, providing a net-zero alternative to car travel and domestic flights, and training a skilled workforce for the UK’s future construction industry.”