A new map shows the dramatic changes to HS2 after Rishi Sunak confirmed he was ”ending the long-running saga” of the high-speed project from Birmingham to Manchester.
Making his first conference speech as prime minister, Sunak said he had made the decision to scrap the northern leg of the rail project because the costs of the project had more than doubled.
He confirmed reports that the £36bn saved from the axing will be reinvested into road and rail schemes in the North and Midlands.
Sunak told the conference: “What we need is a better transport connection in the North… this will be our priority. HS2 is the ultimate example of the old consensus, the result of a project whose costs have more then doubled."
A graphic shows the revised path of HS2, which now only links London with Birmingham after the cancellation of the northern section connecting Birmingham and Manchester.
The Y-shaped railway was also originally meant to link Birmingham with Leeds but this connection was ditched in 2021 on cost grounds.
Sunak added: “I say to those that backed the project in the first place – the facts have changed and the right thing to do when the facts change is to change direction.
“I am ending this long running saga. I am cancelling the rest of the HS2 project and in its place we will reinvest every single penny – £36bn – in hundreds of new transport project in the North and the Midlands.
His comments came after members of the Cabinet met up on Wednesday morning to sign off the details of the announcement.
But even with agreement from senior Tories, Sunak is defying a backlash from Tory colleagues and northern leaders as he seeks to portray himself as a radical reformer.
Labour’s Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham, said that the decision would mean that the north of England “will have a smaller economy for the rest of this century”.
The Tory mayor for the West Midlands, Andy Street, previously said it would be “an incredible political gaffe” allowing opponents to accuse Sunak of having decided to “shaft the North” while in Manchester.
Reports suggest Street is considering quitting as a result of the decision, but was waiting to see what exactly was announced.
“We intend to listen to the PM’s speech and respond accordingly,” his spokesman said.
The HS2 scheme was given a budget of £55.7 billion in 2015 but costs have ballooned, with an estimate of up to £98 billion – in 2019 prices – in 2020.
Since then, soaring inflation will have pushed costs even higher.
READ MORE ON HS2:
Yahoo News runs down the delays and U-turns of the beleaguered HS2 project:
The then Labour government sets up HS2 Ltd to look at the case for building a high-speed railway line.
HS2 is given the green light by the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government, despite concerns about its cost and its impact on the environment. It has an initial budget of £32bn.
The projected cost of delivering HS2 rises to £42bn.
The House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee notes that the new projected cost for HS2 is £56bn.
The National Audit Office warns the project is already under financial strain and could be delayed by a year.
The government announces a review of HS2 which will analyse whether it should continue to go ahead, with the Department for Transport promising a “go or no-go” decision by the end of that year.
The review will be led by former HS2 Ltd chairman Douglas Oakervee.
Later that month, the BBC reports the government and HS2 bosses knew the project was over budget and behind schedule three years previously in 2016.
HS2 Ltd chairman Allan Cook says HS2 may not be completed until 2040 and could cost as much as £88bn.
The Oakervee Review is delivered and finds that costs have ballooned even more, projecting an overall cost of £106bn.
However, the report finds that the project should continue.
That same month, the National Audit Office accuses the government of underestimating the complexity of the project, saying it is impossible to say with certainty just how much the final cost of HS2 could be.
Despite the concerns, prime minister Boris Johnson gives another green light to HS2, approving the entire line.
MPs say the HS2 project has gone “badly off course” and that further increases in costs cannot be ruled out.
The all-party public accounts committee accuses the Department for Transport of hiding information about delays and cost overruns.
Formal construction on HS2 begins, with Johnson saying it is an “incredible” project and “crucial for our country”.
MPs say there is “no clear end in sight” to the cost and delays of HS2.
The Public Accounts Committee said it is “increasingly alarmed” about key parts of the project.
The government says that dealing with anti-HS2 protests has cost the high speed rail project up to £80m.
Johnson tells the Conservative Party conference in Manchester that his government “will do Northern Powerhouse Rail, we will link up the cities of the Midlands and the North”.
The government is accused of committing a 'great robbery' as transport secretary Grant Shapps confirms that the eastern leg of HS2 to Leeds has been scrapped.
Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner said Northern Powerhouse Rail – the name given to proposals for an east-to-west high-speed train line across the North – had been “a fraud”.
A £3bn branch of the HS2 network designed to speed up rail journeys between London and Scotland is quietly ditched by ministers, provoking outrage from rail industry groups.
Transport Secretary Mark Harper announces the delay of the Birmingham to Crewe leg of HS2, blaming increased costs and inflation.
In a written statement to MPs, Harper also confirms the government will be prioritising HS2 services between the Midlands and Old Oak Common outside central London, meaning commuters from Birmingham to the capital will have to continue their journeys from the western suburbs using the Tube, adding journey time.
Harper's announcement does not appear to give a definitive date of when HS2 will be completed so people can travel direct into London Euston.
Sunak is reportedly considering delaying or scrapping the Birmingham to Manchester leg of HS2.
Senior Tories George Osborne and Lord Heseltine warn Sunak that doing so would be a "gross act of vandalism".
But former transport secretary Grant Shapps said it would be "crazy" and "irresponsible" for the government not to reconsider the project as costs continue to rise.
Rishi Sunak confirms he is scrapping the “rest of HS2” following days of speculation.
Watch: Labour Party want to see HS2 completed in full