HS2 has been forced to deny claims that transport secretary Chris Grayling told rail industry chiefs that phase two may not get built.
According to the Sunday Telegraph, Mr Grayling was quoted as telling a rail conference in London that HS2’s second phase was “not in the bag” and could be scaled back.
The Telegraph reported the transport secretary as saying: “It [HS2] will be a fantastic railway, one of the best in Europe – but it still needs support if it is to definitely go to Leeds.”
HS2 dismissed the claims as “nonsense”, while the Department for Transport said in a statement that the claims were “completely and utterly untrue”.
CN understands that Mr Grayling was referring to the “parliamentary process” of approving HS2’s separate phases when making his comments.
The DfT said: “The Sunday Telegraph story is absolute nonsense – it takes statements out of context that were made at an event several weeks ago not attended by the newspaper.
“It is completely and utterly untrue to suggest the transport secretary does not think HS2 will be completed – as we would have made clear to the Sunday Telegraph had the paper contacted the DfT for comment.”
The second phase of HS2 will see two further spurs from the line built to link Birmingham with northern cities. One spur will head to Crewe, Wigan and Manchester, with the other heading to Leeds via the East Midlands.
The first phase of the route from London to Birmingham is due to open in 2026.
Construction of the second phase is still be approved by an act of parliament, with legislation expected to be placed in 2020.
The second phase is scheduled to open by 2033.