Destination Crewe HS2 display at Crewe railway station (1)

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak finally confirmed the worst kept secret today – that phase 2a of HS2 between Birmingham and Crewe will be scrapped.

The decision will sparked mixed reaction across the political divide and among business leaders in Cheshire East with many fearing it will deal a blow to the local economy.

HS2 was due to run through Crewe station and then on to Manchester in Phase 2B, opening around 2030.

But Mr Sunak told today’s Conservative Party Conference that the right decision was to scrap the high speed rail link and use the billions of pounds saved for other projects in the north.

Many have accused the Government of u-turning on its “Levelling Up” pledge, leaving the north out to dry.

South Cheshire Chamber of Commerce has blasted the Government’s decision, calling it an ‘utter disgrace’ for the region and the North.

Paul Colman, Chief Executive, said it was a ‘devastating blow’ in particular for Crewe and Nantwich where so much was hinging on the economic boost high speed rail would deliver during the project construction and in future years when up and running.

He said: “Businesses have been keen to relocate to South Cheshire on the back of HS2. Despite the project delays, business confidence was at an all-time high. Now that is shattered.

“We know our business community will dig deep and show its resilience as it did in the pandemic years but today its reeling from being let down once again.

“HS2 was hailed the saviour of Crewe, a town built on a Victorian railway infrastructure and still the centre of the railway network.

“With the prospect of high speed rail came the promise of a state-of-the-art HS2 station at Crewe, creating a new era of modern rail travel. Now that hope has been dashed too.

“Today we feel extremely let down and disappointed for all of South Cheshire. For the businesses that can no longer plan and for the local people of Crewe and Nantwich who had been looking forward to regeneration and prosperity.

“They have been robbed of job opportunities and improved life chances.”

Mr Colman has met with counterparts throughout the country and our national body British Chambers of Commerce to voice their anger.

And today South Cheshire Chamber of Commerce is taking part in a wider protest as a leading member of the British Chamber of Commerce.

He added: “HS2 has always been more than super-fast travel to London. It was about freeing up capacity on the West Coast Main line which is notorious for over-crowding while creating a greener, more sustainable travel alternative.

“After being debated for more than a decade, and delayed several times, we can only hope the Government has a concrete plan lined up to improve the current railway infrastructure making rail travel across our country cheaper and more reliable.

“Meanwhile South Cheshire will look at ways of picking itself up. There has been considerable inward investment on the back of HS2 and we are desperate for that not to dry up.”

The Chamber of Commerce will meet with the area’s largest employers to formulate a plan to ensure South Cheshire remains an attractive place to invest.

They hope to build on the area’s excellent motorway links, leafy quality of life and workforce including many who have honed skills in railway and motor vehicle manufacturing industries as well as an emerging flow of creatives ready to take on new technologies.

A talent pool, the Chamber says, is worth every penny spent on staying on track with plans to relocate or establish commercial interests in South Cheshire.

Meanwhile, Crewe and Nantwich Labour candidate Connor Naismith said the announcement coupled with Crewe missing out on the 55 towns receiving £20 million each for “reinvigorating high streets” shows the area is being ignored by Government.

He said: “The message from this government to Crewe and Nantwich is clear, we are not a priority.

“Whether it’s HS2, or levelling up funding, Crewe and Nantwich continues to be let down by the Conservative Party.

“While they force communities to go cap in hand to Whitehall begging for their own money back, the next Labour government will spread power, wealth and opportunity to all parts of our country.

“Labour has a plan to grow our country by harnessing the talents, ambitions and skills of the British people, and in turn provide sustainable long term funding for councils, and certainty for business to invest.

“Labour will give Crewe and Nantwich it’s future back.”


  1. Richie Eddie says:

    The only people complaining about this are the people with their snouts in the trough. But the wasters needn’t worry, the govt are constantly dreaming up new ways to squander taxpayers’ money.

  2. Ian Simpson says:

    Let’s face it. This was never going to happen. A project too far, across multiple governments and inevitable spiralling costs. The pandemic was the final straw. Also, not everyone wanted the disruption of the years of building or high speed trains rattling by 60M and less from their back doors.
    People who seem to have been forgotten here are those uprooted from their homes already. I feel a swathe of claims and compensation on the horizon

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