Boris Johnson has approved the delivery of HS2.
In a speech to the House of Commons, the Prime Minister confirmed a minister will be appointed, with the full-time remit to oversee the construction and completion of high speed rail.
Mr Johnson confirmed to the House that the Cabinet “has given high speed rail the green signal.”
There were concerns from leaders in the North that Phase II of the line, connecting Manchester and Leeds to Birmingham and London, would suffer as a result of spiralling costs.
But, though changes to the routes to Manchester and Leeds may be made to save money, the scheme will go ahead.
The Prime Minister conceded that poor management has blighted the HS2 project, but this should not take away from the project’s “fundamental value.”
He said: “Speaking as an MP whose constituency is on the route, I cannot say that HS2 Ltd has distinguished itself in the handling of local communities.
“But poor management to date has not detracted, in my view, from the fundamental value of the project.”
Cost savings will be explored but the project will continue, with Phase I expected to be running by the end of this decade.
Mr Johnson added: “We face a historic choice. We can try to get by with the existing route between north and south, condemning the next generation to overcrowding and standing up, or we can make the decision no matter how difficult and controversial that will deliver prosperity to every part of the country.”
The Oakervee review has also been published; it highlights the primary need for capacity, and confirms “the government should recommit to the principle of the full Y-shaped network, serving both sides of the Pennines.”
It concludes that HS2 should be part of the national rail network, including links to existing railways but also to investment proposals from Midlands Connect, Transport for the North, and Network Rail’s Enhancement Programme.
In order to realise the highest value for money, the review states that the “full network is needed,” and “the quickest way to deliver long distance, inner-city connectivity to the Midlands and the North of England is to continue with Phase I, and to fully commit to subsequent phases.”
Whether the latter will happen in light of potential adjustments to save money, remains to be seen, but a broad commitment to the whole of the project has been welcomed by various business groups including the CBI.