Dozens of senior business leaders urge Government to build HS2 all the way to Yorkshire

The leaders of 63 of the UK's largest companies have demanded that Prime Minister Boris Johnson fulfil his promise to deliver the Eastern leg of HS2 to Yorkshire in full.

In an open letter calling, leaders of the likes of WSP and Siemens Mobility call upon Mr Johnson to deliver on his levelling-up promise and commit to the completion of HS2’s Eastern Leg in full, amid mounting speculation as to the future of the route that will run from the West Midlands through to Leeds.

In the letter, leading rail, construction and engineering firms from the High Speed Rail Group (HSRG) and Railway Industry Association (RIA) have called on the Prime Minister to offer clarity and certainty on the Eastern Leg, which they say will transform national connectivity by linking Yorkshire, the North East and East Midlands into the HS2 network.

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They note that “businesses have invested millions in people, in skills, in technology and in hardware to deliver HS2. To date, 16,000 people have been employed on the project, including over 500 apprentices. We had expected this to grow to 34,000 at peak construction, including 2,000 apprentices, over the coming years.

HS2 to Yorkshire under threat?

"Whilst cities like Leeds have built their economic and spatial strategies around the project. All of which is at risk should the Eastern leg be curtailed or, worse still, cancelled."

The letter also urges the Prime Minister to consult with regional leaders before taking a decision, stating that “leaders in the East Midlands, Yorkshire and the North East – irrespective of political party – are near-unanimous in their backing for HS2. As you will know, those very regions were critical to your victory at the last General Election. And it is the communities in those regions who will be most let-down should the Eastern Leg not move forward.”

Mr Johnson committed to the eastern leg in Parliament prior to the pandemic but speculation has mounted in recent weeks it is to be scrapped in a bid to shore up the nation's finances.

Tom Wadsworth, Director at the High Speed Rail Group, said: “Last year the Prime Minister promised that HS2 would go ahead in full, including from the West Midlands to Leeds, and his own MPs have asked what he is going to do to level up if he doesn’t build the Eastern leg.

“So before taking any decision to delay or cancel the Eastern leg, the Prime Minister should talk to the businesses employing the people up and down the country who will deliver HS2; talk to the apprentices learning their trade who will build the line to Leeds; talk to the regional leaders in the East Midlands, Yorkshire and the North East who – irrespective of political party – are near-unanimous in their backing for HS2; and talk to his own MPs who are committed to levelling up Britain.

“Failing to deliver HS2 in full would undermine the Prime Minister’s commitment to levelling up and to net zero. So we are calling on the Prime Minister to reaffirm his promise to deliver HS2 in full, including the eastern leg.”

The full list of those to sign the letter is as follows:

Nick Crossfield, Managing Director, UK & Ireland, Alstom

Andy Bell, Vice President, Thales Ground Transportation Systems UK

Colin Wood, Chief Executive Officer, Europe, AECOM

Nick Salt, CEO, SYSTRA Limited

Dyan Crowther, CEO, HS1 Ltd

Will Wilson, CEO, Siemens Mobility Limited

Mark Reynolds, Group CEO, Mace

Mark Naysmith, Chief Executive Officer for WSP UK, Middle East, India and Africa, WSP

Donald Morrison, Senior Vice President Europe and Digital Strategies, Jacobs U.K. Limited

Tim Gray, Managing Director, Hitachi Information Control Systems Europe

Steve Roberts, Director, S and L Roberts (Railway Consulting)

Darren James, Chief Executive Officer, Keltbray Holdings Ltd

Darren Caplan, Chief Executive, Railway Industry Association

Alan Ryder, CEO, RSK

Rick Tucker, Rail Director, AUS Ltd

Steve Barbour, Managing Director, Composite Braiding Ltd

Steve King, Director, Rail Asset Development Ltd

Nick Mallinson, Chief Executive Officer, BCIMO

Paul Culnane, Managing Director, Arthur Flury (UK) Ltd

Tony Westlate, Executive Director, Head of Rail, Tony Gee and Partners LLP

Justin Moss, Co-Chair, Northern Rail Industry Leaders (NRIL)

Ian Funnell, Chief Executive Officer, Hitachi ABB Power Grids

Nick Smith, Chief Executive Officer, Maestrano Group PLC

Tim Brown, Managing Director, GBR-Rail Ltd

Malcolm Wilson, Managing Director, IPEX Consulting

Peter De Lacey, Managing Director, Southside Rail Training Ltd

Pete Johnson, CEO, Vivacity Rail Consulting

David Johnson, Technical Director, D/Gauge

Jag Sidhu, Director, Nick Building Contractors Ltd

Andy Flowerday, Executive Director, Barhale

Greg Howell, Director, Rail Innovations

Gareth Richardson, Managing Director, Geismar UK Limited

Mike Wilson, Managing Director- EP Division, Henry Williams Ltd

Paul Curtis, CEO, LPA Group Plc

David Leask, Sales and Operations Director, Findlay Irvine Ltd

Mark Cutler, CEO, Van Elle

Dr Anthony Ashbrook, Co-founder and CEO, Machines with Vision Limited

Noel Dolphin, Director, Furrer+Frey

Paul Goodhand, Managing Director, Knorr-Bremse Rail Systems (UK) Ltd

Stuart Burns, Managing Director, Dura Composites

Pino De Rosa IEng FICE, FPWI, Managing Director, Bridgeway Consulting Ltd

Alan Robertson, CEO, VolkerWessels UK

Andrew Mott, Managing Director, Mechan Ltd

Sajjad Akbar, Rail Sector Director, Capita Real Estate & Infrastructure

Nicholas Hill, CEO, Plextek Services Ltd

Xijun Cao, President and CEO, British Steel

Stephen Dalton, Managing Director, Transport, Telent

Andy Derbyshire, Group Managing Director, Wabtec Corporation (UK)

David Taylor, Head of Future Business, Babcock Rail

Manoj Gupta, Rail Sector Director, Waterman Group

Dr Maurizio Bragagni OBE, CEO, Tratos UK Ltd

Philippa Spence, Managing Director, Ramboll UK

Emily Kent, Director, One Big Circle Ltd

Clive Baker, Director of Security Locking, Dormakaba

Rebeka Sellick, Director, SellickRail Ltd

Mark Combes, Non Executive Director, Severn Partnership Ltd

Ken Horton, Managing Director, Ferrabyrne

Neil Kirkby, Executive Chairman, SSE Contracting

Andrew Wright, Managing Director, Plura Composites Ltd

Peter Kingsland, SVP UK & APAC, Icomera UK Ltd

Kelly Warburton, Managing Director Rail - UK & Europe, Unipart Rail

Ray Chapman, Managing Director, Ray Chapman Associates

Mat Baine, CEO, Egis Group