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Andy Street Promotes HS2 Sites But Could A Snap Election Send It Off The Rails?


Those who fear that the HS2 high speed train project is about to come off the rails should take heart, if only briefly, as the growing risk of a general election raises new threats.

In a week in which Solihull council pondered what might be the future of the £2B UK Central development if the £56B high speed line did not get completed, some good news has come from London. One of the major hurdles HS2 had to overcome was the completion of a new central London terminal. HS2 Ltd, the Birmingham-based body responsible for delivering the line from London via Birmingham to Manchester, the East Midlands and Leeds, has at last ended a 19-month procurement process.

The Mace/Dragados joint venture will act as HS2's construction partner, working with the station designers, to coordinate the building of the new station at Euston, including platforms, concourse and links to London Underground and other rail services.

The announcement follows the start of site clearance at Washwood Heath, where the Birmingham HS2 depot will be located. It is one of 62 live sites across the whole Phase 1 route, servicing more than 250 work locations. More than 7,000 jobs are supported by HS2, and more than 300 companies in the Midlands are already working on the project.

Euston and Washwood Heath starts come as West Midlands Metro Mayor Andy Street promoted a series of developments around the two West Midlands HS2 stations at the MIPIM property convention in Cannes.

The West Midlands Combined Authority’s 24-strong list of schemes is lead by the 250-acre UK Central scheme and includes the £1B Birmingham Curzon Street development.

But the Mipim presentation comes as the government's Brexit deal faces its latest hurdles amidst growing speculation that a general election will be necessary to resolve the impasse.

The political pressure on HS2 shows no signs of letting up, and could become more acute. The latest reports suggest that Northamptonshire MP and Cabinet Minister Andrea Leadsom is continuing to oppose the scheme. Last week a survey of Conservative Party members suggested she was the favorite to lead the party and become Prime Minister, should the Conservatives win a snap election. Her first attempt to secure election as Conservative leader failed in 2016.