The Prime Minister today confirmed the government is to proceed with the High Speed 2 rail project between London, the midlands and the north of England. The government has further indicated it seeks to ensure HS2’s full integration with existing and future transport links in the north, informed by an assessment to be undertaken by the Commission.

In response, Chair of the National Infrastructure Commission Sir John Armitt said:

“We welcome today’s announcement as a sensible way forward for High Speed 2. The project will bring a range of benefits across the country, if delivered as part of a wider integrated strategy for improving rail connectivity. The Commission stands ready to advise government on how to ensure the latter phases can unlock maximum benefit for communities across the north and midlands. The details of that work are still to be finalised.”

Update, 21 February 2020: The government has published the terms of reference for its integrated rail plan, which will be informed by an assessment of the rail needs of the North and the Midlands to be undertaken by the Commission. The Commission will operate independently, at arms length from government.

Separately from the Commission’s assessment, government is undertaking an exercise to learn lessons from Phase 1 of HS2 to drive down costs.