Chairman Allan Cook leaves this summer

Departing HS2 chair Allan Cook has said he expects the scheme will be built in full.

Cook, whose departure was confirmed yesterday, said he believed his successor will be working on a scheme that includes legs to both Manchester and Leeds.

Doubts have been raised over the future of the eastern leg of the route north of Birmingham, thanks to the National Infrastructure Commission recommending the branch to Leeds be downgraded as a priority.

The NIC report, which was published in December, was commissioned to advise the government on rail projects across the Midlands and North of England.

The rail needs assessment for the Midlands and the North final report suggested the government should push ahead with the western side of the railway into Manchester, but delay completing the eastern side to Leeds.

But Cook, who goes in July, said: “I have a number of months before my departure but, with tunnelling due to start in the summer and as we enter a new phase of the project, the department will start the search for my successor who can give their full focus to the future momentum of the project as the railway expands further north and is, as I expect, delivered in full.”

NIC chair Sir John Armitt said while it recommended a long-term phased approach to the eastern arm of the northern part of HS2, it said priority should be given to making faster progress on the section from Birmingham to the hub in the East Midlands.

He said this phased approach would mean benefits would be felt at a regional level sooner, given it was unlikely this section of the railway would be fully delivered until the 2040s.


Proposed full HS2 route to Manchester and Leeds