Birmingham and Manchester mayors are holding talks with the government to use private money to fund high-speed rail line connecting their cities

Two regional mayors have reportedly come up with a cross-party plan to reboot HS2’s West Midlands to Manchester leg using private sector money. 

Birmingham’s Conservative mayor Andy Street and Manchester’s Labour mayor Andy Burnham are believed to have joined forces to reinstate the plan for a high speed rail line between their two cities.


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Manchester mayor Andy Burnham has joined forces with Birmingham Mayor Andy Link to reboot HS2 

The elected mayors are reportedly planning to hold talks with the government’s transport secretary Mark Harper in Whitehall this week.

Phase one of the HS2, the Southern leg which connects London to Birmingham, is already estimated to have cost the taxpayer between £49bn and £56.6bn.

“The mayors of the two regions are leading this but, to be clear, with government support. By inviting the private sector in to play the maximum possible role, it can be significantly less costly for the public exchequer,” Street told The Express.

In October, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced he was scrapping the northern leg of HS2, claiming the move would claw back £36bn of taxpayers’ money which would be divided into “smaller projects” for “the rest of the country”.

Street said: “We have to be realistic about this. If I say it won’t cost the Exchequer anything, that’s probably not the case. But we are definitely looking for it to cost substantially less.”

>>See also: HS2 could cost nearly £68bn after inflation

>>See also:HS2 cancellation could release capacity to supply chain, says T&T

>>See also: HS2 eyeing 2030 completion date for Phase 1

He added: “We have got around the table organisations that do the private-sector funding of rail in other parts of the world, and people who either own or are linked to operators.”

Confirming he was scrapping the HS2 line between Manchester and Birmingham at the Tory party conference in Manchester in October, Sunak described it as “the ultimate example of the old consensus”. 

He said: “The result is a project whose costs have more than doubled, which has been repeatedly delayed and it is not scheduled to reach here in Manchester for almost two decades.” 

A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “The government is supportive of work to improve rail connectivity between Birmingham and Manchester.”