'We won't stand for second best' - Conservatives in London to propose scrapping phase one of HS2 and giving money to Crossrail

The construction site for the HS2 high speed rail scheme in Euston, London. . Photo: Victoria Jones/PA Wire
The construction site for the HS2 high speed rail scheme in Euston, London. . Photo: Victoria Jones/PA Wire
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Conservatives in the Greater London Assembly (GLA) are set to propose scrapping phase one of HS2.

The Conservative group in the GLA is expected to announce he wants to scrap the London to Birmingham phase of the high-speed rail link and put some of the money towards Crossrail 2, a proposed rail route in South East England, and some cash towards Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR).

Gerald Jennings. Photo: James Hardisty

Gerald Jennings. Photo: James Hardisty

But the proposals prompted a stark warning to the Prime Minister - who is visiting Rotherham today - from the West and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce that it will not stand for second best and watch the North get short-changed, once again, on transport investment.

Chamber Chairman, Gerald Jennings, said: “It’s about time this government recognised that a powerful northern economy with 21st century connectivity is not a zero-sum game, but will

add significantly to UK plc.”

“The carrot we’ve been dangled in committing to a new Leeds – Manchester route doesn’t come close to what London and the South East already has, and we’re well aware of the

bigger plan being hatched by the Conservative Group in the London Assembly to scrap phase one of HS2 in order to fund Crossrail 2.

"The London Assembly doesn’t even have a role in deciding HS2’s future, and obviously cares little about the North and thinks we can be bought off with a promise of better east-west links between just two of our northern cities. No one was promising us NPR before the former Chairman of HS2 Ltd suggested it to both complement and maximise the further benefits of investment in HS2.

“Well we won’t stand for second best Boris – we need both.”

Mr Jennings said amid Brexit chaos the only thing sure to get the UK’s economy moving in the right direction is the assurance of delivering HS2 in full alongside NPR. He said only the two together will provide the capacity for a robust rail network that allows people and goods to move freely, while regenerating towns and cities and helping the great northern industries to thrive.

He said billions had already been spent on schemes in London.

The Conservative GLA group declined to comment.

The 250mph HS2 line connecting London with Leeds and Manchester was originally due to arrive in Yorkshire in 2033.

But the future of the project has been thrown into doubt after Boris Johnson's government launched a review into whether and how the whole project should proceed.

And last week it emerged that Phase 2b of the scheme will not be complete until between 2035 and 2040 - compared with the original target deadline of 2033 for the section from Crewe to Manchester and Birmingham to Leeds.

Northern leaders say both HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail, a £39bn high speed rail network connecting the great cities of the North, is needed to transform the region's transport connections.

Mr Johnson has already promised to deliver the Manchester to Leeds leg of the scheme at a cost of £9bn but local official are still at odds over how NPR can connect to HS2 in Manchester and south of Leeds.