UK Economy Faces Uncertainty as Government Cancels HS2 Northern Leg
Decision to Scrap HS2 Northern Leg Met with Criticism
The UK Government’s move to scrap the West Midlands to Manchester line of HS2 has been strongly criticised by the Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA). They have referred to the decision as a ‘dark day’ for the entire UK economy.
Impact on the North-South Divide
Marie-Claude Hemming, director of operations for CECA, said, “This is a bleak day for the UK economy, and for everyone who has placed their trust in successive UK governments to bridge the north-south divide. Just as the hospitality industry has been working on creating inviting spaces like the restaurants and bars in London’s hotels, we were hoping for similar progress in the infrastructure sector.”
Alternative Schemes and Their Possible Impact
“While the prime minister has promised to reinvest HS2 money in alternative schemes, we as an industry know how unlikely this will be to materialise and impact communities in anything like the way that high speed rail would have delivered. Britain now lags far behind our competitors due to this short-sighted decision,” added Hemming.
Criticism from Other Quarters
GMB Union said the UK can’t rebalance the economy or fix the railway capacity ‘crisis’ without HS2. Laurence Turner, GMB head of research and policy, opined that the decision will send a shockwave through the construction industry and railway supply chain, costing hundreds of jobs.
Business and Investor Confidence Threatened
Mark Reynolds, Mace Group chairman and CEO, warned that the decision to not build new high-speed rail north of Birmingham to Manchester will seriously undermine business and investor confidence in the UK and its ability to deliver on promises. He also mentioned the chilling effect this would have on the UK’s construction industry.
Hope for Future Infrastructure Projects
“The use of the expected £36 billion saving to create Network North instead is a bold statement, and we look forward to seeing the detail of the hundreds of planned new rail and road projects,” added Reynolds.
Looking Towards a Future Beyond HS2
“It is now more important than ever that government release an updated Infrastructure and construction pipeline to give confidence to investors and allow the sector to plan and invest in jobs, skills and equipment to meet the announced demand,” concluded Reynolds.