Business leaders have called on the government to “be bold and deliver” HS2, the high-speed rail network linking the north and the south of England, ahead of a critical review in to the project.

“The unequivocal message… is back it, build it, benefit from it,” said a joint statement from six Confederation of British Industry (CBI) regional councils spanning all parts of the proposed route.

“A scaled back version of HS2 will not deliver the improved connectivity across the country that businesses are crying out for.”



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August 2019: HS2 rail link could be terminated as review announced

The first phase of the network is due to open in 2026.

In August, the future of HS2 was thrown in to doubt when it was revealed that an independent review would consider whether and how the £55bn project should continue.

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At the time, the Department for Transport formally announced an inquiry into the rail link, which would “inform the government’s decisions on next steps for the project”.

Responding to the review, which is expected to be completed this week, business leaders from the CBI said the rail line needed to be built in its entirety, calling it “a once-in-a-generation opportunity to drive regional economic growth and rebalance the economy.”

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The CBI regional chairs from the East Midlands, West Midlands, Yorkshire and Humber, London, the North East, and North West were all signatories to the statement.

The first phase is due to open in 2026
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Critics say the project is too expensive and environmentally damaging

The groups urged Prime Minister Boris Johnson to offer his unwavering support to the project.

“It is time for MPs and policymakers to lift their gaze, put the national interest first and back HS2,” Beckie Hart, CBI regional director for Yorkshire and Humber, said.

“We cannot have more dither or delay. Britain needs to be bold and I am urging them to back HS2.”

Last month, the company building the high-speed railway said HS2 could cost up to £22bn more than its previous budget and may be delayed by seven years.

Phase 1 of HS2 is planned to run between London and Birmingham.

Current designs involve a second Y-shaped phase launching in two stages: Phase 2a from the West Midlands to Crewe followed by phase 2b from Crewe to Manchester, and Birmingham to Leeds.