The northern leg of the HS2 line is set to be scrapped the government are about to formally announce.
Rumours had been circling for weeks that the high-speed rail line between Birmingham and Manchester was going to be axed by the prime minister and chancellor due to soaring costs.
But even the reports led to a huge backlash from all sides of the political spectrum with Labour mayors urging its retention. and former prime ministers Boris Johnson and Theresa May also voiced their concern over the cancellation speculation.
The first indications that the leg to Manchester could be scrapped came after the Independent reported that ministers were considering shelving the northern phase amid concerns about spiralling costs and severe delays.
The newspaper said a cost estimate revealed that the government has already spent £2.3bn on stage two of the railway from Birmingham to Manchester, but that ditching the northern phase could save up to £34bn.
Speaking about the news, Clive Wratten, CEO of the Business Travel Association (BTA) says: “Scrapping the Manchester to London leg of HS2 is a deplorable act of carelessness on behalf of the Government. Cancelling the key northern hub makes a mockery of the levelling-up agenda.
Once again, connected business travel across the UK is sacrificed by those in power negligent of the needs of those outside London.
We are on the verge of a climate crisis. Car hire is 22% up. Domestic air travel has increased. Rail is no longer the first choice. Continuous capacity challenges are forcing up costs, with service issues a consistent kick in the teeth to business travellers.
All rail infrastructure projects must be protected through investment. Travellers need a reliable and efficient alternative. We challenge you: without HS2, what will that alternative be?”