HS2 must be built in full say regional CBI bosses

Six regional bosses of a UK business organisation have urged the Government to build HS2 in full, amid a Government-commissioned review which could lead to all or part of the high-speed rail network being scrapped.

The chairs of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) all signed up to a statement claiming a scaled-back version "will not deliver the improved connectivity across the country that businesses are crying out for".

The letter from the representatives of the North West, West Midlands, Yorkshire and Humber, London, the East Midlands and went on:

Northern leaders have also published a review recommending that the North and Midlands must take control of plans for a high-speed rail network in their areas.

The Northern Powerhouse Independent Review called for the establishment of a body named HS2 North, which would be arm's-length from government and be overseen by Transport for the North to ensure HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail are combined efficiently.

Chris Oglesby, chief executive of Manchester-based property firm Bruntwood and a member of the panel which oversaw the review, said:

A review into whether to scrap HS2 was launched by the Prime Minister in August and is due to be completed shortly.

This is being led by Douglas Oakervee, a former chairman of HS2 Ltd - the taxpayer-funded firm building the railway - with Lord Berkeley acting as his deputy.

Recent figures compiled by HS2 Ltd show the railway could be delayed by up to seven years and run #26 billion over budget, reaching a cost of #88 billion.

Phase 1 of HS2 is planned to run between London and Birmingham.

Current designs involve a second Y-shaped phase launching in two stages: Phase 2a from the West Midlands to Crewe followed by phase 2b from Crewe to Manchester, and Birmingham to Leeds.