CBI regional heads call for HS2 to be built in full

16 October 2019 | By Neil Gerrard

Six regional heads of employers’ group the CBI have called for High Speed 2 to be built in full in order to stimulate house building, jobs and investment across the North and Midlands.

The call came amid fears that the independent Oakervee review commissioned by the government could recommend scrapping part or all of the high-speed rail network.

The heads of the CBI’s East Midlands, West Midlands, Yorkshire and Humber, London, North East and North West regions said HS2 would bring benefits “far beyond its costs”. They also warned that if the project were to be scaled down, it would not deliver the improved connectivity across the country that businesses were “crying out for”.

The panel has overseen its own review, called the Northern Powerhouse Independent Review, and has called for a new body called HS2 North to be established to ensure that HS2 and Northern Power House Rail are combined effectively.

It suggested that HS2 North is created as an organisation at arm’s length from government and is overseen by Transport for the North to ensure control of the high-speed rail network in the region.

Chris Oglesby, a member of the review panel and chief executive of Manchester-based property firm Bruntwood said: "Our review panel proposes that the North and Midlands must take control of the nation's high-speed network.

"HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail - a major priority of Boris Johnson and his government - are completely interlinked and a joined up approach is required to both and the upgrades to existing lines.

"Only by delivering an integrated high-speed network right across the North can a Northern Powerhouse vision be truly realised. Further delays and uncertainty are hugely damaging to the North and the country as a whole."

Last month, transport secretary Grant Shapps revealed that HS2 could be delayed by up to seven years and was up to £26bn over budget, with a total cost of £88bn.

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