Rishi Sunak’s decision to cancel the
high-speed rail line from Birmingham to Manchester was a centrepiece of the PM’s party conference speech.
He said it would free up £36billion for hundreds of new transport projects, with “every region receiving more investment than they would have done”.
However, construction of the HS2 line between Birmingham and Crewe was due to employ 6,500 people when the work was at its height in 2027-28, while 17,500 people were to be employed on the final phase of the project, the line from Crewe to Manchester, by 2030.
Industry leaders say they will be forced to put recruitment plans on hold and may even be forced to cut existing staff.
Plant hire firm L Lynch, which provides equipment such as excavators and dump trucks, is about to open a site in Solihull near Birmingham to help it provide services for phase one and two.
Director Rob Lynch said: “The Solihull site was a major investment, absolutely built with phase two in mind.
“A lot of the money from HS2 projects flows into sub-contractors and suppliers like ourselves that are typically family-owned businesses, and that money goes into our workforce and the supply chain. The benefits of this project to the construction industry have been massive.”
The Rail Industry Association, which represents 350 businesses in the supply chain, is calling on the Government
to ensure the northern section can be resurrected at a future date.
Policy director Robert Cook said: “A lot of our members are looking hard at the implications for their workforce.”
But hopes that Labour will announce plans to reverse the decision at its annual conference this week are likely to be dashed. A party source said: “The implications of the Government’s announcement are huge. We need to consider them in detail, but we’re not going to make any promises we can’t keep.”
The Department for Transport has already announced plans to sell off
11.79 sq km of land, including 824 properties, which were acquired for the northern route at a cost of £563million.
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