Controversial HS2 plans go ahead to meet 2028 target

Boris Johnson has announced that the controversial HS2 high-speed rail link will be built.

The first phase of the route will travel between London and Birmingham, with a second phase going to Manchester and Leeds.

While research last year by ComRes revealed that a fifth were opposed to the line being scrapped,supporters of HS2 say it will improve transport times, increase capacity, create jobs and rebalance the UK's economy.

Once it is built, the idea is that journeys will be shorter with London to Birmingham travel times taking approximately 1 hour, 21 minutes to 52 minutes, according to the Department for Transport.

The prime minister said that it has been a controversial and difficult decision and was going to appoint a full-time minister to oversee the project. He also criticised the HS2 company's management of the scheme.

"I cannot say that HS2 limited has distinguished itself in the handling of local communities. The cost forecasts have exploded, but poor management to date has not minimized the fundamental value of the project."

The prime minister said that a series of measures would be taken to "restore discipline to the programme".

Leaked reports suggested the line may eventually cost in excess of £100bn – more than double the 2015 estimate.

There has been pressure on the government not to abandon HS2 from a number of regional politicians, including the West Midlands mayor, Andy Street.

Mr Street believes there is a strong economic case for high-speed rail and it will support the rebalancing of the economies of the Midlands and north.

The first phase of the high-speed rail link between London and Birmingham is likely to open in 2028, later than the proposed 2026 target. The second phase to Manchester and Leeds has also been pushed back to 2035-40.

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