The northern leg of HS2 from Birmingham to Manchester has been scrapped, Rishi Sunak has announced.
The Prime Minister confirmed the decision to axe the route as he made his keynote speech at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester today.
Sunak said: “I am ending this long running saga. I am cancelling the rest of the HS2 project. And in its place we will invest every single penny – £36bn – in hundreds of new transport projects in the north and the Midlands, across the country.
“This means £36bn pounds of investment in projects that will make a real difference across our nation.”
The Prime Minister said his government would create “a new Network North that will join up our great towns and cities in the north and Midlands”.
He added: “I wanted to come here to Manchester today to say that this will be our priority.”
The announcement follows weeks of speculation over the future of the multi-billion pound rail line, with Sunak defying the backlash from businesses, Tory colleagues and northern leaders.
BusinessLDN chief executive John Dickie said: “The government has done the unthinkable by building a new north-south railway and stopping halfway.
“This short-sighted decision has been made with little attempt to work with business to explore how costs could be reduced and private investment increased.”
He added: “This meddling by ministers sends a very negative signal to investors and contractors, which will drive up the price that we all pay when it comes to delivering future major infrastructure projects.”
While London Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s (LCCI) head of policy James Watkins added: “Businesses in the capital expected a high speed rail ink that would boost productivity and growth not just for London but for the Midlands and the North West.
“This decision also means that the long awaited plans to relieve capacity on the West Coast Mainline has been lost – which can lead to future rail delays for London travelers and all people who use this rail line across the country.
“As we look ahead to the Labour Party conference, we await to see if shadow ministers will commit to HS2 from London to Manchester”.