Manchester Leaders respond to speculation over HS2 future

  • Monday 25 September 2023

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Manchester City Council Leader Cllr Bev Craig and Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham have sent an urgent joint letter to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak about the future of HS2.

Here is their letter in full:

Dear Prime Minister


We are becoming increasingly concerned about the rumours swirling around HS2 to Manchester and, by extension, Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR).

For over a decade, we have worked closely with successive Governments on this project, to galvanise support and maximise the once in a generation opportunity of investment into northern infrastructure it offers. At this stage, any change to the current plan for HS2 would have massive ramifications not just for our city-region but the North and Midlands too. As HS2 phase 2b delivers key enabling infrastructure for Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) between Manchester Airport and Manchester Piccadilly, any cancellation of HS2 to Manchester would effectively be cancelling NPR in its current form too.

We therefore find it deeply disrespectful to our residents and businesses that we have not been offered any opportunity to feed our views into this process nor have we received any information about what is being considered. We are completely in the dark and that simply isn’t right given how profoundly important this is for our part of the country.

Whilst it is reasonable for any Government to want to ensure HS2 delivers value for money, and that prices do not escalate out of control, the North of England should not have to pay for the Government’s mismanagement of the HS2 budget.

Our purpose in writing, first and foremost, is to ask you for the courtesy of a meeting before any final decision is taken. We believe we are owed that at the very least.

If you were to agree to that, we would convey to you in the strongest possible terms that HS2 should not be scrapped. We believe the North of England needs new North-South and East-West rail infrastructure and should not be forced to choose between them in the same way that London hasn't been forced such a choice. However, if you are adamant on making changes to the scheme, we could be open to a discussion about prioritising the Northern section of the line, between Manchester Airport and Manchester Piccadilly, so that it enables NPR to be built first. This would be conditional on two things: NPR being built in full, with an underground station at Manchester Piccadilly and a new line via Bradford; and a clear commitment that HS2 to Manchester is not being scrapped but re-phased and the protections left in place.

We believe this is a reasonable proposal to put to you given the circumstances we find ourselves in. If you refuse to accept any of what we are saying, we believe that people here will conclude that your promises to level up the North, on which this Government was elected, are utterly meaningless.


Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester

Cllr Bev Craig, Leader of Manchester City Council

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