Labour Mayors Rally for HS2 Line Preservation Amid Rising Project Cost Concerns

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A quintet of Labour mayors are poised for a crucial meeting to advocate for the preservation of the HS2 line linking Birmingham and Manchester. This gathering, slated to take place later today, will see the likes of London’s Sadiq Khan and other mayoral equivalents converging in Leeds to pen a heartfelt appeal to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak.

In addition to sounding a call for the continued existence of the HS2, the mayors also intend to rally for the government’s unwavering commitment to fully implement the Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR). The final decision on the HS2 extension from the Midlands to North West remains a matter of government deliberation.

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The meeting will host a prestigious lineup that includes Tracy Brabin of West Yorkshire, Greater Manchester’s Andy Burnham, Steve Rotherham of the Liverpool City Region, and South Yorkshire’s Oliver Coppard. These municipal leaders are expected to ink their collective appeal prior to the assembly of the Transport for the North board.

The heart of the matter is the HS2, a high-speed rail project designed to seamlessly connect London, the Midlands, and the North of England. The initial leg linking West London and Birmingham has already seen the light of construction day. In contrast, the once planned Eastward leg between Birmingham and Leeds was shelved, and the line from Birmingham to Crewe, extending to Manchester, experienced a minimal two-year delay.

A previous official estimate in 2019 placed the HS2 costs, without the now-defunct Eastern section, at roughly £71bn. However, a rise in both material and wage costs in recent years indicates a potential total bill soaring past £100bn.

According to Tuesday’s comments by Home Office Minister Chris Philp, Prime Minister and Chancellor Jeremy Hunt are currently scrutinizing the project due to the significant cost elevation. “The expenditure has approximately tripled since the project’s initial conception,” he revealed. “The remaining stages of HS2 are yet undecided, but the Prime Minister and the Chancellor are taking a close look at cost containment strategies”.

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