26 March 2019

Prime Minister reaffirms Government commitment to HS2 Phase Two

Prime Minister Theresa May has reaffirmed the Government’s commitment to delivering the whole of the HS2 Phase Two line, following joint action by prominent Midlands’ figures – including D2N2 LEP Chair Elizabeth Fagan.

In January (2019) local authority, business and other organisations’ leaders from the Midlands and the North of England made public their open letter to Mrs May, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, Liberal Democrats Leader Sir Vince Cable and SNP Leader Nicola Sturgeon; urging them to offer their unwavering support to Phase 2 of the high speed rail network.

HS2 Phase One, connecting London to the West Midlands, is under construction. HS2 Phase 2 (split into sections 2a and 2b) would connect the West Midlands and the North of England.

The HS2 Phase 2b section of the line or ‘eastern leg’ would run through the D2N2 LEP area, with linked proposals for an East Midlands Hub at Toton and HS2 maintenance depot at Staveley, north Derbyshire. On the current schedule, Phase 2b would open in 2033.

D2N2 LEP Chair Elizabeth Fagan co-signed the open letter to political party leaders – alongside prominent figures such as Sir John Peace, Chair of Midlands Engine and Midlands Connect; Charlie Cornish, Chief Executive of Manchester Airports Group; and the Managing Directors of East Midlands Airport and Birmingham Airport – and joined signatories at a Parliamentary reception to promote its message, on January 24. HS2 Chairman Allan Cook and Transport Secretary Chris Grayling were also at the event in support. Attendees at January's Parliamentary reception are pictured above.

Now, in response to the landmark open letter, the PM has written back to reiterate the Government’s commitment to HS2 Phase 2.

In her written response to Midlands Connect and Midlands Engine chairman Sir John Peace, Mrs May says:

“I welcome your continued support for HS2, and recognise the extent to which the benefits of the scheme are already being felt. I would like to take this opportunity to assure you that the Government remains committed to delivering the whole of HS2 Phase 2 and will continue to work closely with you to ensure that the project meets your aspirations for growth and regeneration.”

Later this year HS2 will be consulting on aspects of the Phase 2b route, following feedback received by the company at its ten week consultation in autumn 2018. Available plans will show how the route has continued to be refined in response to feedback received during the past few years. HS2 Phase 2a – linking the West Midlands, Crewe and Manchester – is expected to achieve Royal Assent at the end of 2019.

Sir John Peace, Chairman of Midlands Connect and Midlands Engine, said: “The Government has sent the Midlands and the North a strong, positive message: HS2 is happening, it’s already a huge catalyst for growth, and it supports major upgrades to the existing rail network through the work of Midlands Connect and Northern Powerhouse Rail.

“During a crucial transitional period for the country, and with the Comprehensive Spending Review due this autumn, it is our responsibility as business and civic leaders to keep making the case for HS2. It is essential to the economic futures of the Midlands and the North, and we are building our growth plans around it. Now is not the time to falter.”

In March the Midlands Engine Development Corporation Oversight Board held its first meeting at the East Midlands Conference Centre, University of Nottingham. It will steer and promote commercial development along the length of the HS2 Phase 2 route, through the region. Government has allocated the Development Corporation £2million.

To learn more about the HS2 network see website www.hs2.org.uk/

For more on the East Midlands HS2 Strategic Board's response to the economic opportunities presented by the high speed network see its report East Midlands HS2 Growth Strategy: World Class-Locally Driven, published September 2017.

Media wanting more information about the D2N2 LEP can contact Sean Kirby, D2N2 Communications Manager, on 0115 9578749 or email: sean.kirby@d2n2lep.org