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HS2 bill gains royal assent

Words: Laura Edgar
HS2 train concept art / HS2

The UK Parliament has passed the High-Speed Rail (West Midlands to Crewe) Bill, which approves the building of HS2 phase 2A north from the West Midlands to Crewe.

The bill secured royal assent on 11 February, becoming the High Speed Rail (West Midlands to Crewe) Act 2021.

The act means HS2 will run through one of England’s principal rail hubs in Crewe and that the 36-mile (58km) will be built earlier than planned, according to HS2 Ltd. The opening of this stretch is scheduled to coincide with phase one between London and the West Midlands.   

HS2 Ltd CEO Mark Thurston said: “Parliament’s approval for extending HS2 beyond the West Midlands to the North is a clear sign that MPs recognise the enormous potential of this scheme and continue to give their strong support.

“As the first major railway built in the North for over 100 years, HS2 will spur massive economic growth for our towns and cities, help to level up the country, and provide cleaner, greener public transport for millions. As construction starts, this new phase of work will very quickly support 5,000 jobs in the North, with many more in the supply chain, further cementing HS2’s critical role in Britain’s economic recovery from the pandemic.”

The high-speed services, which are intended to deliver extra capacity, improve reliability and reduce journey times, will join the existing network to create direct services to places such as Liverpool, Manchester, Preston, Carlisle and Glasgow. Crewe also connects passengers to North Wales and Shrewsbury.  

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “HS2 is the most significant expansion to our national railways in a generation – transforming connectivity between our towns and cities and vastly increasing the capacity of our rail network. By proceeding full steam ahead, we are delivering on our commitment to unite and level up the country.

“The construction of phase 2a will support thousands of jobs and create opportunities for local businesses as we build back better.”


A High-Speed Rail Group (HSRG) spokesperson said royal assent “marks a significant milestone in the life of the HS2 project, as it becomes ever more a truly North – South railway.

“The scheme will provide a new national transport spine for the country and be a cornerstone of the government‘s vision to level up Britain. HSRG has long highlighted the significant impact phase 2a will have on line of route towns and beyond. In Crewe, for example, a new commercial hub will be created that will help unlock growth in the wider North West and North Wales.

“As we look to the future, we look forward to seeing the next HS2 phase under development, the western leg from Crewe to Manchester, progress. But we must ensure that we develop a high-speed rail network that delivers for the whole of Britain. This includes the areas that will be served by HS2’s eastern leg, where the project will also bring with it a wealth of investment, skills and job opportunities, to communities that need them most.”

Maria Machancoses, director of Midlands Connect, said the “historic milestone will be music to the ears of businesses, investors and travellers alike”.

It’s heartening to see progress being made, government must now work to ensure this momentum is maintained and that construction is started on the Birmingham to Crewe leg as soon as possible.

“While phases one and 2a are moving ahead apace, and have created thousands of highly skilled jobs, apprenticeships and unprecedented regeneration, it is essential that a decision is made on the scope of phase 2b of the project, especially the eastern leg of the route between Birmingham, the East Midlands, Chesterfield, Sheffield and Leeds. Any further delay will cause uncertainty at a time when business confidence and job security have been shaken by Covid-19. We in the Midlands and North are clear, we need the whole of the HS2 network to be delivered, in full.”

Image credit | HS2 Ltd