Failing Grayling's threat to HS2

05 November 2018

Mick Whelan, general secretary of ASLEF, the train drivers’ union, has called on the government to confirm its commitment to HS2 in the wake of speculation that the plug will be pulled on part of the project.

 

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has suggested that while the high speed link from London to Birmingham will happen, the planned extensions to Manchester and Leeds could be dumped. He told the Railway Industry Association conference at the Landmark Hotel in London that the second phase is not ‘in the bag’ and ‘the case [for the extensions] has to be made’.

 

Mick said: ‘We believe Britain needs not only a new high speed rail line but a new high speed rail network and we have always argued that HS2 should run the length of the UK, being built from Scotland, and the south of England, at the same time, meeting in the middle, linking HS1, and going via Heathrow.

 

‘Shaving a few minutes off the journey time from London to Birmingham was never what this project was about. It was a plan to build a better railway for 21st century Britain, to free up pathways for passengers and for freight, and to bring prosperity to every corner of our country.

 

‘If HS2 does not go on to Leeds and Manchester, what becomes of the much-trumpeted Northern powerhouse? And what is the purpose of the HS2 project?

 

‘It’s time for Mr Grayling to be honest and tell us what he really has in mind. If the rest of the project is cancelled, it will be an enormous betrayal. Because the HS2 project, which has been backed, until now, by both Labour and Conservative governments, by the trade unions, and by British business, is vital to rebuilding this country.

‘To halt HS2 in its tracks now would send out the message to the countries with whom we hope to do new trade deals next year that Britain is stuck in the past, not looking to the future.’

 

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