HS2 Rail Link Cancellation Risk Deepens North-South Divide, Warns Mayor Burnham


In the wake of rising concerns, Mayor Andy Burnham of Greater Manchester voiced his distress over the potential scrapping of the HS2 high-speed rail link route from Birmingham to Manchester. He sternly warned that it could significantly impair and destabilize plans to enhance and modernize rail services for the whole of northern England, potentially creating an impenetrable ‘north-south chasm’.

The credibility of the HS2 in its entirety is hanging by a thread due to the unforeseen delays, increased costs, and cuts it has experienced since its conception. With the central government’s failure to guarantee that the line will stretch from the Midlands to the North West, speculation around the project continues to escalate.

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In addition to this, the implementation of other significant transportation projects, including local bus services and minor enhancements like pothole repairs, have been promised by the government as part of the UK’s commitment to creating a balanced society, a point emphasized by Chancellor Rishi Sunak.

Contrary to the initial proposition to link London, the Midlands and the north of England, the high-speed rail project presently seems a distant dream. The initial portion, which was meant to connect west London and Birmingham, is in construction. But the overall project has faced significant roadblocks, including the cancellation of the planned eastern section between Birmingham and Leeds in late 2021.

Even previously promised plans, such as the Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) scheme to link Leeds, Manchester, and Liverpool, are now uncertain depending on the fate of the northern section of HS2.

Mr. Burnham and Manchester City Council leader Bev Craig warned that scrapping the northern stretch would knock the wind out of other projects like NPR as well. Burnham added this would leave the north with antiquated infrastructure potentially for the whole century, creating a deeper north-south divide.

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