Business leaders welcome confirmation of HS2 link to Crewe
Business chiefs have welcomed the news that legislation for Phase 2a of HS2 has passed its final hurdle.
The parliamentary Bill to build the high-speed rail line between Birmingham and Crewe received royal assent on Thursday, opening the way for construction work to begin.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson described it as a “landmark moment”.
Construction of Phase 2a is expected to begin by 2024.
The Blackpool-headquartered Federation of Small Businesses National Chairman Mike Cherry said: "Getting the go-ahead for the next phase of HS2 marks a positive step forward in transforming the infrastructure small businesses rely on.
“Small businesses are a force to be reckoned with and they bring a dynamism to supply chains that corporates struggle to match.
"Giving them opportunities to work on this great project is vital to them and the local economies they drive forward.
"As they are placed under huge strain by lockdowns, HS2 contracts are helping small firms to survive, and create and sustain jobs."
The opening of the route will coincide with Phase 1 between London and Birmingham, which is scheduled to happen between 2029 and 2033.
This means the first HS2 trains will run on new high-speed lines between London and Crewe via Birmingham, before joining the existing network to create direct services to locations such as Liverpool, Manchester, Preston, Carlisle and Glasgow.
HS2 continues to face strong opposition.
Some environmental groups are angry at the impact of its construction, with a number of campaigners in tunnels dug near London Euston station.
There are also widespread concerns about the cost of the project
The Government-commissioned Oakervee Review warned in 2018 that the final bill for HS2 could reach £106 billion at 2019 prices.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “Whatever your view of this project, HS2 is now a reality – heading north, creating jobs and building a brighter future for our country.
“This vital project is at the heart of the Government’s commitments to build back better from the pandemic, tackle the North-South divide and drive growth across the country."