Saturday 22 June 2019 11:01 am

Business leaders urge government to commit to HS2

Top business groups have penned an open letter urging the next prime minister to commit to delivering HS2 in full.

The letter argued full support for the £56bn rail project was vital for the flow of investment not just in the north of England, but across the whole of the UK.

Read more: HS2 bulldozes BHS warehouse to make way for new Euston station

Construction is already underway on the first phase of HS2, which will connect London and Birmingham.

But the groups called for a firm commitment to the second phase of the project, which will link the West Midlands to Manchester and Leeds.

“Our support must not flounder or stall. We must unite to deliver HS2 in full, and we urge you to join us by offering your vocal and unwavering support,” they wrote.

“To our next potential prime minister we say: Back it, build it, benefit from it.”

The letter was signed by more than 20 business leaders from groups including the Confederation of British Industry, the Institute of Directors, the Federation of Small Businesses and London First.

The groups also called on the future prime minister – one of either Boris Johnson or Jeremy Hunt – to restate his commitment to the so-called Northern Powerhouse rail and its links to HS2.

According to Transport for the North, fewer than 10,000 people in the north can access four or more of the north’s largest economic centres within an hour.

In the letter, the groups wrote: “We are passionate believers that this is not just a northern issue, it is a UK issue.”

Earlier this month transport secretary Chris Grayling launched a review into how the second phase of HS2 could be more cost-effective and efficient.

Read more: Chris Grayling launches HS2 review to boost links with north

The government is consulting on the creation of two new junctions that would connect the network to the Northern Powerhouse rail.

But the fate of the project hangs in the balance, as some Tory MPs have called for the scheme to be scrapped and the money invested in local transport links instead.