Boris Johnson gives HS2 railway the go-ahead

The Prime Minister has given HS2 the green light, despite costs currently standing at more than £100 billion for the project.

But Boris Johnson says a minister is going to be put in charge of it because he wants to "restore discipline" to keep it within budget and on time.

However, Ministers have asked that further work is undertaken on the scope of Phase 2b - which includes the Eastern Leg of HS2 through the East Midlands.

Recently, Peak FM brought you a special report on the potential impact of HS2 in North Derbyshire.

Locally, the leader of Chesterfield Borough Council has reacted to the news.

Cllr Tricia Gilby said: “This is great news for Chesterfield. HS2 is a once in a generation opportunity for the town and borough. The new high-speed train line will have a transformative effect on our economy, with the prospect of 10,200 new jobs, 4,700 new homes and an annual uplift of £270 million in expenditure on local goods and services.

Cllr Tricia Gilby, Leader of Chesterfield Borough Council

“HS2 will afford the one million people that currently live within 30 minutes’ drive of Chesterfield railway station improved rail connectivity to the north and south and establish Chesterfield as the international gateway to the world-famous Peak District national park.

“Chesterfield is ready for HS2. We are currently finalising the HS2 Chesterfield Station Masterplan ahead of a public consultation exercise this summer and have been making the case for the new HS2 line maintenance depot, which will bring hundreds of new high-quality engineering jobs to Staveley, to also be used as a base for construction of the new line.

“I am also delighted that over 800 primary and secondary school children in Chesterfield and north Derbyshire have already had the opportunity to engage in our “HS2 and You” programme. With the billions of pounds of investment now planned for the rail industry there will be plenty of great job opportunities for future generations”.

 Today’s announcement comes on the back of Talgo’s recent decision to establish its UK Headquarters at Barrow Hill Roundhouse. The Spanish train manufacturer has also confirmed its commitment to develop a Rail Innovation and Training Centre in Chesterfield.

 The Innovation Centre, which is expected to open in 2022, will include a suite of specialist research and development laboratories, commercial office and workshop space, and training facilities that will provide a complete education pathway from school through to university level study. The Innovation Centre will also act as a hub for Talgo to engage with local companies that supply parts to the rail industry.

 Whilst the Government has given the go ahead to the construction of the whole line, the announcement also references an intention to carry out a further review of the second phase of HS2, which includes the eastern leg from Birmingham to Leeds.

Cllr Tricia Gilby, continued: “It is critical that the delivery schedule for HS2 Phase 2b is not delayed further and there must be no downgrading of the line through the East Midlands to reduce costs.

 “I will therefore be working closely with East Midlands’ Leaders from both the public and private sectors to ensure that this doesn’t happen. We must provide certainty to investors, businesses and local communities.

 “There is no limit to the council’s ambition to make Chesterfield a thriving borough and to improve the quality of life for local people. The arrival of HS2 is critical to our future.”

Business leaders in our region have also been reacting to the news. Scott Knowles, Chief Executive at East Midlands Chamber, said:

 “HS2 will have a transformational effect on the East Midlands and the UK as a whole for generations to come and confirmation that the project will go ahead is welcome news. 

“Our region, and the whole of UK plc, deserves rail infrastructure fit for the 21st Century if we are to remain competitive and aspire to an even brighter future – today’s announcement will go some way to addressing this.”

scott knowles chamber

Scott Knowles, Chief Executive, East Midlands Chamber

The Eastern Leg of HS2 will run from Birmingham to Leeds via the East Midlands Hub station at Toton, Chesterfield and Sheffield. The Eastern Leg and onward connections will serve a combined area of 15 million people which already contributes over £320bn a year to the UK economy.

From an East Midlands perspective, the East Midlands HS2 Growth Strategy published in 2017 sets out plans to use HS2 connectivity to deliver an additional 74,000 jobs and £4bn in GVA across the region.

Scott added: “The vast potential of HS2 will only be realised if implemented in its entirety. While it is of course essential to keep an eye on costs, failure to deliver the Eastern Leg would undermine the whole project and greatly limit its return on investment; putting businesses here in the region at a distinct disadvantage in the process.

“Businesses here in the East Midlands are ready to seize the opportunities and benefits that HS2 will bring. We call on Government to confirm, without delay, that the full vision of the project will be realised; including the Eastern Leg which will prove paramount to our region’s future success.”

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