HS2 update

Sep 22, 2023

Dear Prime Minister,

We are writing to express deep concern over the constant uncertainty that continues to plague the delivery of HS2.

At a time when the economy is facing a challenging outlook, it is vital that the UK invests for the future to improve connectivity, productivity and prosperity across the country. We cannot afford to stand still.

Business across the country need certainty to efficiently plan and deliver long-term economic growth. The repeated mixed signals on HS2 with its related Northern Powerhouse Rail scheme East to West are damaging the UK’s reputation as a place to do business. They are also damaging the country’s wider supply chain, as spending commitments cannot be made with confidence.

Over the last two decades we have had repeated promises of infrastructure investment made to cities including Manchester, Glasgow, Leeds, Sheffield and London. As business leaders, we have invested in our industries on the back of those promises.

Two years ago, Yorkshire and the North-East lost the Eastern Leg of HS2, with no settled alternative yet identified following protracted delays. Earlier this year, construction work at Euston was paused by the Department for Transport. It is now reported that the entire line from Birmingham to Crewe (allowing access to Scotland), the new line to Manchester, and Euston station as the terminus may all be cancelled entirely in the upcoming Autumn Statement.

We share your focus on managing the cost of major projects. However, delays and change create uncertainty and add cost, especially at this late stage when construction is already well underway. That is why we do not support the recent delays to the new line towards Crewe and work at Euston, which together will eventually cost taxpayers an additional half a billion pounds. Chopping off whole sections of the route would be even more damaging: it makes no sense for the country to build a high-speed railway from Birmingham to Ealing.

History has shown time and again that committing to investment in major infrastructure pays dividends. The positive benefits of the Elizabeth Line, for example, are clear for all to see. Large-scale projects will always be challenging to deliver but the long-term economic interests of the UK demand that we deliver HS2 and NPR in full as quickly as possible. We urge you to re-commit yourself to the project, consistent with your previous promises whilst at HM Treasury, to support jobs, growth and productivity in the North, London and across the country.

Yours Sincerely,

Charlie Cornish, Chief Executive Director, MAG Airports

Professor Juergen Maier CBE, Vice-Chair, Northern Powerhouse Partnership

John Dickie, Chief Executive, BusinessLDN

Shevaun Haviland, Director General, British Chambers of Commerce

Gary Neville, Broadcaster, former professional football player and business owner

Alan Brookes, Global CEO, Arcadis

Dame Nancy Rothwell, Vice-Chancellor, University of Manchester

Mark Reynolds, CEO, Mace

David Duffy, Group Chief Executive, Virgin Money

Jim Brewin, Chief Director UK & Ireland, Hitachi Rail

Colin Wood, Chief Executive, AECOM Europe and India

Heidi Mottram CBE, CEO, Northumbrian Water Group

Richard Robinson, CEO (UK & Europe), Atkins

Simon Carter, Chief Executive Officer, British Land

Nick Walkley, Principal & UK President, Avison Young

Clive Memmott, CEO, Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce

Miranda Barker OBE, Chief Executive, East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce

Simon Bird, Director Humber, Associated British Ports

Chris Oglesby, CEO, Bruntwood

Tom Grundy, CEO, Hybrid Air Vehicles Ltd

Alan Belfield, Chair, Arup Group

Vincent Hodder, CEO, Leeds Bradford Airport

Thomas Faulkner, Executive Vice President, Skanska UK

Mark Horsley, CEO, Northern Gas Networks

Gareth Scargill, Director, Nexus

James Bain, COO, Worldline

John Heaps, Chair, Yorkshire Building Society

Noel Meaney, CEO, Stellium Datacenters

Martin Hathaway, Managing Director, Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce

Thomas Martin, Chairman, Arco

Andrew McFarlane, Head of UK Regions, Colliers

Ammar Mirza CBE, Chair of Asian Business Connexions CIC

Stephen Gildert, Managing Director, Gildert Consulting

Simon Moorehead, Managing Director, Pippa Beauty (Limited)

Brian Scowcroft, Chairman, Kingsmoor Park Properties

Gill Morris, Executive Chair, DevoInflect

Mark Thompson, Managing Partner, Ryder Architecture

Ben Aspinall, Managing Director, Aspinall Verdi

Emma Degg, Chief Executive, North West Business Leadership Team

Babs Murphy, Chief Executive, North & Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce

Tom Rumboll, CEO, Synetiq Limited

Barry Leahey MBE, President, Playdale Playgrounds Ltd

Neville Chamberlain CBE, Chairman, Cheshire Business Leaders

Andrew Mooney, Managing Director/Founder, Actikem Ltd

Sam Booth, Chief Executive, Pro Manchester

Bill Walker, Chair, Future Humber

Jonathan Oxley, Chair, Lupton Fawcett LLP

Darren Forshaw, Co-Founder & Partner, Endless LLP

Sarah Tulip, Head of Northern Delivery Centres, Cognizant

Ian Ward, General Manager, The Broadway

Gareth Scargill, Director, Nexus

Anthony Cope, Investment Manager, FSE Group

Mark Mattinson, General Manager, The York Dungeon

Andrew Bishop, Founder & Managing Director, Reclaim Audio Ltd

Tim Roberts, CEO, Henry Boot PLC

Nigel Schofield, Vice Chairman, President Warrington Chamber Commerce

Marc McLoughlin, Managing Director, Greenarc Vehicles Ltd

Charlotte Scheffman, Dean of Higher Education, Nelson & Colne College Group

Ian Hartley, Commercial Director, Pendle Doors Ltd

Mark Sears, Managing Director, Heritage Envelopes Ltd

Oli McCann, Partner, After Athena Ltd

Ged Ennis, Director, The Low Carbon Energy Co Ltd

Peter Catlow, Director of Sustainability, Businesswise Solutions Ltd

Mark Dempsey, Head of Culture and Hospitality, Burnley Leisure & Culture

Niamh Allen, Sales & Marketing Director, IoT Horizon Ltd

Stephen Dunn, Managing Director, North West Logistics Ltd

Craig Fishwick, Director, Mayes Accountants

Neil Evans, Managing Directo, Veka PLC

Ian Edwards, Managing Director, The Energy Desk (UK) Ltd

Oliver Brown, Director, Crow Wood Leisure Ltd

Daniel Johnson, Managing Director, Cardboard Box Co Ltd

Amrita Govindji-Bruce, Managing Director, NORI HR & Employment Law

Eunice Simmons, Vice-Chancellor, University of Chester

Eamonn Keogh, Director, O’Neill Associates

Nasreen Karim, Senior Partner, Platinum Partnership Solicitors

Graham Sweeney, Managing Partner, Schofield Sweeney

Tim Waring, Director, Quod

Karen Bryan OBE, Vice-Chancellor, York St John University

David Hurcomb, Chief Executive, NG Bailey Professor

Bob Cryan, Vice-Chancellor, University of Huddersfield

Colin Booth, Group CEO, Luminate

Nikki Davis, Principal & CEO, Leeds College of Building

Ros Morgan, Chief Executive, Heart of London Business Alliance

Patricia Moore, UK Managing Director, Turner & Townsend

Nick Crossfield, Managing Director, Alstom UK & I

Howard Dawber, CEO, City Strategy

Ruth Duston OBE, Founder and CEO, Primera

Andy Knowles, Owner, Assetiam

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