The Prime Minister is expected to approve the High Speed 2 (HS2) rail project today (11 February), according to several reports
According to the BBC, Boris Johnson will throw his support behind the HS2 scheme, which links London to Birmingham, and then on to Manchester and Leeds.
While the government is expected to approve the entire line, it will try to alter the second phase of the project – the routes to Manchester and Leeds – in a bid to save money.
PM expected to announce his intention to go ahead with HS2 to the Commons at lunchtime. Likely to hear the first major dissent in the chamber, with 30+ of his own Tory MPs opposed. But with a majority of 80, the arithmetic is safely in his favour. #HS2
— Paul Brand (@PaulBrandITV) February 11, 2020
Those who support the HS2 rail project say it will not only improve transport lines, but it will also rebalance the UK’s economy and create jobs.
Midlands Connect has been vocal about its support of HS2; labelling the delivery of HS2 in its entirety a necessity, while stating that “cancelling or descoping the project without a proven or credible alternative” would leave the government with no “infrastructure revolution”.
However, critics say the controversial project is already over budget and massively behind schedule.
While environmental groups have also voiced their fears over what the scheme means for the environment.
A report by The Wildlife Trusts suggests HS2 will impact the environment, wildlife species, and landscape restoration projects. It shows that HS2 will divide and destroy huge swathes of irreplaceable natural habitat and important protected wildlife sites up the length of England.
The Stop HS2 campaign says it is ‘incomprehensible’ the HS2 scheme would advance before an investigation by the Serious Fraud Office is completed.
Stop HS2 campaign manager Joe Rukin, said: “It is absolutely incomprehensible that a decision could be made on HS2 without knowing if it has been fuelled by fraud.
“If the Serious Fraud Office were to find evidence of impropriety and malfeasance within HS2 Ltd, their contractors or the Civil Service, the prime minister would have effectively offered himself up as a human shield.”
— Stop HS2 (@stophs2) February 10, 2020
A source close to the HS2 scheme told the BBC that Johnson is also expected to reveal a series of transport projects today (11 February).
What is the HS2 scheme?
The original plan was for a new railway line between London and the West Midlands, with as many as 1,100 seats per train.
The line would allow trains to reach speeds of up to 250mph and would run as often as 14 times an hour in each direction.
This would be followed by a second phase taking services from Birmingham to Manchester and Leeds.
According to the latest predictions, the initial stage would be finished between 2028 and 2031, and the second stage would be complete in 2035-2040.