HS2 and Lower Thames Crossing face two-year delays

10 March 2023

The Birmingham to Crewe leg of HS2 is being delayed for two years to improve government cash flow.

The Lower Thames Crossing, a road tunnel linking Essex and Kent, which is in the planning stages, is also on hold for two years.

Transport secretary Mark Harper said the government remained committed to HS2, linking London, the Midlands and the north of England, but inflationary pressure and increased project costs meant construction on the high-speed railway would be rephased for two years.

In particular, the line between Birmingham, Crewe and Manchester will be delayed by two years, meaning the service to Crewe may not be open until 2036, and Manchester not until 2043.

The government says it is committed to HS2 trains eventually terminating at Euston Station in central London, but for now it is prioritising the service between Old Oak Common in west London and Birmingham.

The government hopes that the delays will allow it to spread the cost over a longer period of time, making it more affordable by reducing annual expenditure.

In 2021 the government scrapped Birmingham to Leeds section of HS2.