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Government’s U-Turn On HS2 Hampers London Business Growth

Monday 27 March 2023

The London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) is disappointed with the Government’s indecision and sudden change of plans to not terminate the High Speed 2 (HS2) rail line at Euston. This comes after the Minister of State for Transport Huw Merriman MP gave his commitment in a letter on 23 February to the HS2 Euston link which is in conflict with yesterday’s statement by the Levelling Up Secretary, Michael Gove MP.

The letter from Mr Merriman reiterated the Government’s commitment to delivering HS2 from Euston to Manchester. The Minister also echoed the Chamber’s call for ensuring faster connectivity to Central London and the development of the 60-acre Euston campus which will have significant public, economic and social benefits.

However, Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities failed to provide the same level of commitment while speaking to the media yesterday. The uncertainty around the final destination of HS2 puts the future of London businesses in jeopardy. Cutting down the scale and delaying the building of HS2 will only diminish its efficacy in the long term, which in turn will undermine productivity and growth across the UK.

Richard Burge, Chief Executive of London Chamber of Commerce and Industry said:

We are disappointed with this Government’s failure to commit that HS2 will go all the way to Euston. Ambiguous messaging alongside, delays, disruptions and ballooning costs have a detrimental impact on London businesses.

HS2 will increase business and trade around the City of London but will also play a pivotal role in the development of Euston. Expecting passengers to travel half an hour on the Elizabeth line before they can avail the benefits of HS2 means increased travel time, disruption and low business confidence which reduces the efficacy of this project.

“HS2 is a game-changer for Old Oak Common area as it would lead to lucrative employment opportunities, affordable and social housing and creation of new public and green space. However, there is no reason why Euston should be left out of this regeneration plan. Levelling up means the equitable distribution of opportunities and by not extending HS2 to Euston, the government will also fail in its commitment to reduce imbalances across the UK.”

LCCI therefore, calls on this Government to clear the air on the final destination of HS2 and ensure that it reaches Euston. London businesses are crucial to the UK’s growth and for this they need fast access to Birmingham and the North which will help the regions to contribute to and benefit from the wealth generated in London.

ENDS

Notes to Editors:

  • Michael Gove’s comments on HS2 referenced in the third paragraph were made on ‘The Andrew Neil Show’ on Channel 4. A link to the interview clip can be found here.
  • Huw Merriman MP, Minister of State for Transport letter to LCCI on February 23 can be found here.