HS2: Next phase of controversial rail link gets green light
The next phase of the controversial HS2 rail link has today been approved by MPs.
Lawmakers gave Royal Assent to phase 2a of the project, which connects Birmingham to Crewe.
It will be built simultaneously with phase 1 of the rail line from London to the West Midlands.
An additional 5,000 jobs will be supported by the construction of phase 2a, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said.
“Today is a landmark moment in our infrastructure revolution. HS2 is the most significant expansion to our national railways in a generation – transforming connectivity between our towns and cities and vastly increasing the capacity of our rail network”, he added.
“By proceeding full steam ahead, we are delivering on our commitment to unite and level up the country.”
Although the bill passed into law with ease, the project remains deeply divisive, with many questioning the need for the link.
Some have argued that the impact of the coronavirus means that it is currently impossible to say whether there will be enough passenger demand for the link.
Construction of the initial stage of the project began in September last year.
HS2 is now estimated to cost nearly £100bn, with the first phases of the line not scheduled to open until the end of the decade at the earliest.
Further phases extending the line to Manchester and Leeds are yet to be given the green light.
Even if they are, construction is not expected to be completed until the middle of the next decade.