Cancelled HS2 Phase 2 funding to be redirected to drive better transport across England
Following the confirmation that Phase 2 of HS2 will no longer move ahead, the UK government has outlined its plans for a revolution in England’s transport infrastructure that will be delivered with the redirected HS2 funding.
On 4 October 2023, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak unveiled his vision for a revolution in England’s transport infrastructure that will see billions of pounds redirected from the cancelled HS2 Phase 2 to build the daily connections that people depend on – unlocking potential, driving growth and transforming communities. The new plans will radically improve travel between and within the country’s cities and towns, and around local areas.
The cornerstone of this plan will be Network North, which will drive better connectivity across the North and Midlands, with faster journey times, increased capacity and more frequent, reliable services across rail, buses and roads. £36 billion will be invested in hundreds of transport projects across the country – with every region set to receive the same or more transport investment on an unprecedented scale as a result of the change. A further £12 billion on top of this figure will be set aside for faster connectivity between Liverpool and Manchester.
Currently, more than four million people in cities in the North cannot reach their city centre by public transport within half an hour, and rail accounts for just 8% of distances travelled and 2% of all journeys. Therefore, the UK Government has announced that it will still deliver HS2 between Euston in central London and the West Midlands as planned – with a station at Old Oak Common and Birmingham Interchange, and branches to central Birmingham and Handsacre, near Lichfield, where HS2 trains for Manchester, Liverpool and Scotland will join the West Coast Main Line – but, rather than delivering the HS2 Phase 2 line between Birmingham and Manchester, the Prime Minister will now take action to deliver greater frequency and quality of transport infrastructure across the whole country.
Communities in towns, cities and rural areas will see improved transport infrastructure through £19.8 billion reinvested in the North, including:
- £2 billion for a new station at Bradford and a new connection to Manchester
- £2.5 billion to deliver a new mass transit system in West Yorkshire
- £3 billion for upgraded and electrified lines between Manchester and Sheffield, Sheffield and Leeds, Sheffield and Hull, and Hull and Leeds
- Nearly £4 billion more funding for local transport in the North’s six city regions
- A new £2.5 billion fund for local transport across all areas in the North outside of the six city regions – including smaller cities, counties, towns and countryside
- A new £3.3 billion fund for road resurfacing
- Landmark investments in roads, reopened train lines and new stations.
A further £12 billion will also be invested to better connect Manchester to Liverpool. This would allow for the delivery of Northern Powerhouse Rail, as previously planned, including high-speed lines. But the government has outlined that it will work with local leaders to agree whether they wish to suggest other ways to achieve the objectives within that cost envelope.
A total of £9.6 billion will be reinvested in the Midlands:
- Funding the Midlands Rail Hub in full with £1.75 billion, connecting 50 stations and over seven million people – doubling capacity and frequency
- Over £1.5 billion guaranteed local transport funding for the new East Midlands Mayor
- Over £1 billion extra local transport funding for West Midlands City Region
- A new £2.2 billion fund for local transport across all areas in the West and East Midlands outside of the city regions – including smaller cities, counties, towns and countryside
- Reopened train lines and new stations, such as the Ivanhoe Line
- The development of Midlands road schemes to benefit businesses and their employees at Rolls Royce, Toyota and Magna Park, generating over £12 billion for the local economy.
And £6.5 billion will be invested across the rest of the country:
- Rail improvements in the Southwest
- Keeping the £2 bus fare until the end of December 2024
- Ensuring the delivery of road schemes
- Transforming Ely Junction, and billions to fix potholes on the country’s roads
- Greater connectivity for both Scotland and Wales, with improvements to the A75 between Gretna and Stranraer, and £1 billion to fund the electrification of the North Wales Main Line.
To ensure that regions are best equipped to reach their productivity potential, local authorities and Metro Mayors will be empowered to create the public transport networks that their communities want to see. The government will also set out a broader package of infrastructure planning reforms in the coming months to remove burdens to building to ensure that these projects are delivered and benefits felt in communities more quickly.