Prime Minister Boris Johnson today announced that plans for a High Speed Rail (HS2) link between London, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds will go ahead, in what he described as a “controversial and difficult decision”.

The first stage will see a high speed rail link between London and Birmingham.

Here’s some reaction from local politicians: 

Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “I am delighted that the Prime Minister has given the go-ahead for HS2, meaning we can now get on and reap the considerable benefits from this once-in-a-generation infrastructure project.

“I want to see the next phase of construction works get started immediately for the Birmingham to London link, with progress made on the lines to Manchester and Leeds as soon as possible.

“HS2 was always going to be a game-changer for the region, particularly because of the impact it is going to have both on employment and our local transport network. Not only will HS2 create tens of thousands of jobs for local people – both directly and indirectly – but it is also going to free up vital capacity on our local rail network, meaning we can run more reliable and frequent local commuter services.

“HS2 will put us at the heart of the UK’s transport system, and we will be able to attract big-name companies to the region – following in the footsteps of HSBC UK who moved its headquarters to Birmingham following the original announcement.

“As Boris said today, we do need to make sure that we find savings to bring the cost of HS2 down, and we need rigorous management to make sure that we get it built as soon as possible.

The Mayor added: “It has been a hard-fought campaign, but ultimately I always believed the economic case would win through and that the Government would give HS2 the go-ahead. I would like to personally thank Boris for showing real leadership in his decision today, and proving that he is committed to levelling-up the UK’s regions.”

Cllr Ian Ward

Cllr Ian Ward, WMCA portfolio holder for transport and leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “I welcome today’s announcement that the Government intends pressing ahead with the London to Birmingham stage of HS2, but it’s disappointing that the second stage to link Birmingham with the North faces yet another review.

“As I made clear to Douglas Oakervee when he launched his review, the people of the Midlands and the North have been neglected for far too long and HS2 is a once in a generation opportunity to rebalance the UK economy.

“This is not about fast trains – it’s about jobs, skills and opportunities. HS2 will free up capacity on the rest of the rail network, improving connectivity within – and importantly between – our cities.

“It will also shift more freight onto rail – an important step towards zero carbon emissions.

“We will only truly see the full benefits of HS2 when Birmingham and the Midlands are at the very heart of a national network.

“So, while today’s announcement is welcome, the simple message for the Government now is to Get HS2 Done.

“Let this be the end of the delays and uncertainty.”

Birmingham Northfield MP, Gary Sambrook (Cons) said: “Conservatives won the General election on a promise to unite the country and level up spending which will spread opportunity across the whole United Kingdom. HS2 does just that for those of us living in Birmingham.

“Levelling up with HS2 has already brought vast investment to Birmingham, creating thousands of jobs, employing local people and upskilling our local workforce.

“However, the mismanagement of this project must end and that is why I am happy with the news we are instilling discipline and financial

Steve McCabe MP said: “I am very pleased that the Government has finally ended the uncertainty and confirmed HS2 will go ahead as planned. Although it’s disappointing that there have been so many months of dither and delay.

“HS2 is vital for the future of the West Midlands, it isn’t about reducing travel times to London but increasing track capacity. By freeing up existing rails, local services can be improved and we can see more people and freight using rail rather than roads. We need transport infrastructure fit for the future and HS2 is part of delivering this.”

to the project, creating a newly-dedicated HS2 minister.

“The £5 billion to transform buses, bikes and roads, is exciting and a great addition to HS2. Many local people write to me about the bus network and the improvements they want to see, so it’s great to see the government are listening and more importantly taking action on the priorities of people here in Birmingham.”

Birmingham Selly Oak MP Steve Mccabe (Lab) said: “I am very pleased that the Government has finally ended the uncertainty and confirmed HS2 will go ahead as planned. Although it’s disappointing that there have been so many months of dither and delay.

“HS2 is vital for the future of the West Midlands, it isn’t about reducing travel times to London but increasing track capacity. By freeing up existing rails, local services can be improved and we can see more people and freight using rail rather than roads. We need transport infrastructure fit for the future and HS2 is part of delivering this.”

Curzon Street image by Geof Sheppard – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikipedia

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