“Productive” talks have been held between mayors and the transport secretary over a doable revival of HS2, Andy Burnham has mentioned.
The mayor of Greater Manchester advised the Transport Select Committee he had met Mark Harper on Wednesday morning to debate privately funded choices to convey again the rail venture – scrapped by Rishi Sunak in October.
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Last week, Mr Harper advised a transport convention he would method any assembly with “an open mind”, although he remained “somewhat sceptical” about whether or not HS2 may very well be accomplished with out public funding.
But Mr Burnham backed the work he and his West Midlands counterpart, Andy Street, had been finishing up, telling MPs: “If we do nothing, we will have a major transport headache.”
And he mentioned extra particulars of the plan might emerge in both February or March.
The prime minister made the axing of the northern leg of HS2 – set to run between Birmingham and Manchester – his key announcement eventually yr’s Conservative Party convention.
Mr Sunak mentioned the “economic case” for the road had “massively weakened with the changes to business travel post-COVID”, and he promised to spend “every single penny” of the £36bn being saved on “hundreds of new transport projects in the North and the Midlands, and across the country”.
But he was met with fierce opposition from each Mr Burnham and Mr Street, with the previous accusing the federal government of treating individuals within the north of England as “second-class citizens”.
Now the pair have commissioned a bunch of personal sector companions, headed by former HS2 chairman, Sir David Higgins, to look into financing main rail enhancements between Handsacre Junction in Staffordshire – the place HS2 will finish – and High Leigh in Cheshire – on the deliberate route for Northern Powerhouse Rail between Manchester and Liverpool.
Speaking concerning the assembly, Mr Burnham advised the committee: “We’ve had a constructive discussion with the secretary of state this morning about the work that we’re doing.
“It’s good that the federal government is at the least listening to what we’re saying.”
He added: “As 2030 and 2040 come round, there’s simply no means on God’s earth that the M6 and the West Coast mainline are able to servicing the expansion that we’re seeing in Greater Manchester and within the West Midlands.
“There has to be another option for rail connectivity between the two cities.
“We’re simply these potentialities, a modest improve to the West Coast mainline or one thing extra substantial, and the way personal finance would possibly play a job in that.”
Mr Harper tweeted a picture of the meeting, pledging to “hold in touch as they proceed to set out their concepts”.
But he insisted the government’s position on cancelling phase two of HS2 “has not modified”, adding: “We are already getting on with delivering our Network North plan, which can see £36bn reallocated into native transport initiatives – benefitting extra individuals in additional locations, extra shortly.”
A spokesperson for the Department for Transport added: “The transport secretary assured the mayors that he would remain in contact with them to discuss how transport connectivity could be improved across the region.
“He additionally made clear that we have cancelled HS2 Phase 2 and we’re already reinvesting the £36bn of financial savings to fund native transport initiatives that may profit extra individuals, in additional locations, extra shortly.
“This includes reinvesting all of the £19.8bn committed to the Northern leg of HS2 in the North and all of the £9.6bn committed to the Midlands leg in the Midlands.”