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Second phase of HS2 could start early, says incoming HS2 chairman

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David Higgins, who is due to take over the role as chairman of HS2 Ltd in January, told the House of Commons Transport Select Committee that he would consider bringing forward work on the northern part of the controversial line

Higgins suggested the second part of the scheme, the ‘Y’ shape linking Birmingham to Sheffield, Leeds and Manchester, could be built from the top down, bringing forward the benefit of the high speed link.

He said: ‘I think if you’re in the North, you want to see the benefits earlier.

’I don’t think people want to wait until 2032 or 2035 to see the benefit, and that is something I will look closely at.’

Under current plans the leg of the line running from London to Birmingham will be built first, and is expected to complete in 2026. Construction on the line linking Sheffield, Leeds and Manchester is unlikely to start before this is completed.

A recent report from consultancy KPMG suggested that the north and midlands would gain at least double the benefit of the south from the £50 billion scheme.

Prime Minister David Cameron defended the much criticised scheme at the Conservative Party conference, saying it was about ‘bringing north and south together’.

He added: ‘This country has been too London-centric for far too long. That’s why we need a new North-South railway line’.

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