HS2 only to Birmingham, the launch of Network North instead

HS2 only to Birmingham, the launch of Network North instead

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has announced that the northern leg of HS2 to Manchester and Liverpool will be scrapped, and the entire funding of £36 billion will be redirected to a series of projects now called Network North.

The decision to cancel the planned connection of the new high-speed rail project in the UK came after scrutiny over spiralling costs of HS2. Its phase one was estimated at £20 but rose to £45 billion. The planned operation was postponed from 2026 to 2041. The Government will deliver HS2 between Euston in central London and the West Midlands as planned, with a station at Old Oak Common and Birmingham Interchange and branches to central Birmingham and Handsacre, near Lichfield – where HS2 trains for Manchester, Liverpool, and Scotland will join the West Coast Main Line. The travel time between London and Birmingham will still be cut by half an hour.

Network North

The idea of Network North is based on keeping the funding where it was aimed (every penny from the Northern leg of HS2 will go to the North and every penny from the Midlands leg to the Midlands). As mentioned in the PM statement, “We will invest in hundreds of projects in towns, cities and rural areas across our whole country, and in roads, rail, and buses – investment on a truly unprecedented scale that will drive economic growth and provide jobs.”

This is where the Network North plans to spend the money on railways:


  • New station at Bradford and a new connection to Manchester
  • Upgraded and electrified lines between Manchester and Sheffield, Sheffield and Leeds, Sheffield and Hull, and Hull-Leeds
  • Landmark investments in reopened train lines and new stations
  • Additional £12 billion to better connect Manchester to Liverpool


  • Funding the Midlands Rail Hub in full with £1.75 billion, connecting 50 stations and over 7 million people – doubling capacity and frequency
  • Reopened train lines and new stations, such as the Ivanhoe Line  


  • Funding set aside to complete the South West Resilience Programme in full, making the vital route between Exeter and Plymouth via Dawlish more resilient in the face of extreme weather
  • Funding the opening of railway lines between Cullompton and Wellington and Tavistock to Plymouth, connecting communities on these routes 

North Wales:

  • A major upgrade of the North Wales Main Line, including electrification, will bring parts of North Wales within an hour of Manchester

Not all the money will be allocated to railways. Major road schemes, city transportation and general connectivity of communities should also benefit from the planned funding reallocation.

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