HS2

Thank you for contacting me about HS2, there is not an option now for HS2 to be stopped.

The decision on this was made well before I became an MP, had I been the MP, I would have been opposed to it

That said, following the recommendations of the independent Oakervee review on the benefits and impact of HS2, the Prime Minister gave the go ahead to HS2 alongside major improvements to local transport networks across the country. Construction work on Phase One of HS2 has now commenced, while Phase 2a has also achieved royal assent.

HS2 will form the backbone of the UK’s transport network, delivering a significant increase in rail capacity, with hundreds of thousands of extra seats. It will cut journey times, bring our biggest towns and cities closer together, enhance North-South connectivity, boost productivity in the Midlands and the North, and crucially it will help to spread prosperity more evenly across the country. HS2 will also play an important role in delivering the Government’s net zero carbon objectives.

Let me be clear that this is not an either / or decision between HS2 and improving the rest of the existing rail network, in particular local services in the Midlands and North. HS2 is in fact integral to giving the regions the fast connections they need.

I have been reassured that Ministers will work hard to speed up the delivery of Northern Powerhouse Rail. More broadly, ‘High Speed North’ will be established to ensure an integrated, effectively sequenced plan to make sure the North and Midlands have the rail capacity and connections they need – east to west and north to south.

I am also particularly pleased about the Government’s determination to see a line drawn under the failures of HS2 Ltd.’s management, transparency and cost control to date. A dedicated Minister with specific responsibility for oversight and accountability of HS2 has been appointed and they will present regular reports to Parliament to enhance transparency.

HS2 Ltd.’s role will also change. The complex Euston station element will become the responsibility of a new body, as will the design and construction of Phase 2b. This will enable HS2 Ltd to focus its energies on delivering Phases 1 and 2a successfully.

I must now work to ensure that the South West and particularly Totnes & South Devon get the improved transport infrastructure they so greatly need.