An open letter to the  Prime Minister, regarding the importance of HS2’s Eastern leg, from HSRG and the Railway Industry Association:

Dear Prime Minister

Last year you rightly committed your government to deliver HS2 in full. You did so because you understood it is the UK’s most important infrastructure project for generations, and that it is a vital pre-requisite to both net zero and levelling-up, the central pillars of your strategy for Britain.

Since then, both you and the Transport Secretary have repeated that commitment to deliver HS2 in full on many occasions. That said, you were right to instigate a review – the Integrated Rail Plan (IRP) – into how HS2 and the Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) might work more effectively together to deliver the most benefit to the country at the best value to the taxpayer. The two projects are, of course, inextricably linked and it is intended that NPR train services will run on HS2 infrastructure on two of the busiest inter-city corridors in the north – Liverpool to Manchester; and Leeds to Sheffield. In simple terms, you can’t deliver NPR without also delivering HS2. It is not a choice between them – any more than it was a choice between Crossrail and HS2 each reaching London.

It is therefore with mounting alarm that we hear increasing speculation that far from accelerating the delivery of HS2 and NPR’s benefits to the north, your IRP might in fact delay, curtail, mothball or even cancel entirely the delivery of the Eastern Leg of HS2. The Eastern Leg, we shouldn’t forget, is the part that turns HS2 from a project which simply alleviates congestion on the West Coast Mainline into one that transforms the connectivity of much of Britain. It is the Eastern Leg which connects Yorkshire, the North East and the East Midlands into HS2. It is not an add-on to the project – in fact you might argue it is the most important part of it.

The question is often asked why infrastructure projects in the UK seem to cost more than elsewhere. And a big part of the answer lies in our propensity in the UK to review and re-open questions which had already been settled. We are indulging in a debate on HS2 scope and design (again) well after construction has commenced. It was understandable that upon taking office in 2019 you reviewed HS2. But having taken the decision to deliver it in full, changing that now would have a devastating impact on confidence in the sector and drive higher costs as other elements would have to be redesigned. Businesses have invested millions in people, in skills, in technology and in hardware to deliver HS2. To date,
16,000 people have been employed on the project, including over 500 apprentices. We had expected this to grow to 34,000 at peak construction, including 2,000 apprentices, over the coming years. Cities like Leeds have built their economic and spatial strategies around the project. So before you take the final decision, we urge you to speak to the businesses employing these people, so you understand the consequences a cancellation of the Eastern Leg would have. We urge you to talk to the apprentices learning their trade on HS2, so you understand the impact on their lives should the project be cut back. And we urge you to talk to the regional leaders in the East Midlands, Yorkshire and the North East who – irrespective of political party – are nearunanimous in their backing for HS2. As you will know, those very regions were critical to your victory at the last General Election. And it is the communities in those regions who will be most let-down should the Eastern Leg not move forward.

Most of all, we urge you to offer clarity and certainty. The IRP review was due to be completed many months ago. As we now enter the Autumn, the communities expecting HS2 to come to them deserve certainty and the businesses investing in the expectation of the project deserve certainty. Without further delay, we urge you to provide it.

Yours sincerely,
Nick Crossfield, Managing Director, UK & Ireland, Alstom
Andy Bell, Vice President, Thales Ground Transportation Systems UK
Colin Wood, Chief Executive Officer, Europe, AECOM
Nick Salt, CEO, SYSTRA Limited
Dyan Crowther, CEO, HS1 Ltd
Will Wilson, CEO, Siemens Mobility Limited
Mark Reynolds, Group CEO, Mace
Mark Naysmith, Chief Executive Officer for WSP UK, Middle East, India and Africa, WSP
Donald Morrison, Senior Vice President Europe and Digital Strategies, Jacobs U.K. Limited
Tim Gray, Managing Director, Hitachi Information Control Systems Europe
Steve Roberts, Director, S and L Roberts (Railway Consulting)
Darren James, Chief Executive Officer, Keltbray Holdings Ltd
Darren Caplan, Chief Executive, Railway Industry Association
Alan Ryder, CEO, RSK
Rick Tucker, Rail Director, AUS Ltd
Steve Barbour, Managing Director, Composite Braiding Ltd
Steve King, Director, Rail Asset Development Ltd
Nick Mallinson, Chief Executive Officer, BCIMO
Paul Culnane, Managing Director, Arthur Flury (UK) Ltd
Tony Westlate, Executive Director, Head of Rail, Tony Gee and Partners LLP
Justin Moss, Co-Chair, Northern Rail Industry Leaders (NRIL)
Ian Funnell, Chief Executive Officer, Hitachi ABB Power Grids
Nick Smith, Chief Executive Officer, Maestrano Group PLC
Tim Brown, Managing Director, GBR-Rail Ltd
Malcolm Wilson, Managing Director, IPEX Consulting
Peter De Lacey, Managing Director, Southside Rail Training Ltd
Pete Johnson, CEO, Vivacity Rail Consulting
David Johnson, Technical Director, D/Gauge
Jag Sidhu, Director, Nick Building Contractors Ltd
Andy Flowerday, Executive Director, Barhale
Greg Howell, Director, Rail Innovations
Gareth Richardson, Managing Director, Geismar UK Limited
Mike Wilson, Managing Director- EP Division, Henry Williams Ltd
Paul Curtis, CEO, LPA Group Plc
David Leask, Sales and Operations Director, Findlay Irvine Ltd
Mark Cutler, CEO, Van Elle
Dr Anthony Ashbrook, Co-founder and CEO, Machines with Vision Limited
Noel Dolphin, Director, Furrer+Frey
Paul Goodhand, Managing Director, Knorr-Bremse Rail Systems (UK) Ltd
Stuart Burns, Managing Director, Dura Composites
Pino De Rosa IEng FICE, FPWI, Managing Director, Bridgeway Consulting Ltd
Alan Robertson, CEO, VolkerWessels UK
Andrew Mott, Managing Director, Mechan Ltd
Sajjad Akbar, Rail Sector Director, Capita Real Estate & Infrastructure
Nicholas Hill, CEO, Plextek Services Ltd
Xijun Cao, President and CEO, British Steel
Stephen Dalton, Managing Director, Transport, Telent
Andy Derbyshire, Group Managing Director, Wabtec Corporation (UK)
David Taylor, Head of Future Business, Babcock Rail
Manoj Gupta, Rail Sector Director, Waterman Group
Dr Maurizio Bragagni OBE, CEO, Tratos UK Ltd
Philippa Spence, Managing Director, Ramboll UK
Emily Kent, Director, One Big Circle Ltd
Clive Baker, Director of Security Locking, Dormakaba
Rebeka Sellick, Director, SellickRail Ltd
Mark Combes, Non Executive Director, Severn Partnership Ltd
Ken Horton, Managing Director, Ferrabyrne
Neil Kirkby, Executive Chairman, SSE Contracting
Andrew Wright, Managing Director, Plura Composites Ltd
Peter Kingsland, SVP UK & APAC, Icomera UK Ltd
Kelly Warburton, Managing Director Rail – UK & Europe, Unipart Rail
Ray Chapman, Managing Director, Ray Chapman Associates
Mat Baine, CEO, Egis Group