Decision day for HS2 looms as Boris Johnson announces £5bn out of London bus package

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A major infrastructure package with a focus on transport connections in the North will be kicked off on Tuesday with announcements on buses and a decision expected on HS2.

Boris Johnson told northern Tory MPs last week that a final call on the HS2 project would be made “within days” and it is understood Cabinet ministers will be given the chance to green light the scheme on Tuesday morning before the PM gives a statement in the House of Commons.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Photo: PA

Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Photo: PA

But Mr Johnson is likely to say that investment is needed at all levels and go beyond HS2, with an emphasis on not just transport, but also taking in freeports and broadband initiatives.

A Government source said: "HS2 is understandably an important part of this picture for many constituencies, and the PM reassured them he would be making a decision in 'days'."

The package is expected to see ministers announce projects set to receive a slice of £40m for pilots of 5G technologies in rural areas.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps will require West Midlands Trains to deliver a £20m package of improvements for passengers due to recent "poor performance".

The investment will be directed at improving services and recruiting extra drivers.

It is understood Mr Shapps will remain in his position in the looming Cabinet reshuffle.

Downing Street is believed to be impressed by his "grip" on the portfolio, according to sources.

However Andy McDonald, Labour’s Shadow Transport Secretary, said: “HS2 has been appallingly mismanaged by the Conservative Party, which has failed to deliver a single major infrastructure project on time or within budget.

“If HS2 is going to get back on track, the project has to be integrated with Crossrail for the North, it needs to be managed as part of an advanced rail network, and it must eventually extend into Scotland so that we remove the need for domestic flights.

“The government must also commit to running HS2 services under public ownership. That way it is the UK public – not private or overseas state-owned companies – who will see a return on this investment.”

It comes as Mr Johnson will today announce £5bn of new funding over five years to overhaul bus and cycle links for every region outside London.

He will set out a new vision to level up local transport connections throughout the country, making every day journeys easier, greener and more convenient, including more services, simpler and more affordable fares, and at least 4,000 new zero-emission buses.

Cycle routes will also see a major boost across the country with over 250 miles of new, high-quality separated cycle routes and safe junctions in towns and cities to be constructed across England, as part of the multi billion pound package announced today.

Mr Johnson said: “Local transport connections have a truly transformative role to play in levelling up infrastructure across the country.

“Our daily journeys for work or leisure are about so much more than just getting from A to B – they are the key to accessing skilled jobs and opportunities, boosting businesses and unlocking economic growth for towns, cities and regions across this country.

“That’s why improving connectivity by overhauling bus services and making cycling easier than ever is such an important step forward, to make sure every community has the foundations it needs to thrive.”