It started out with high hopes and a higher budget. Helen Pidd explains why the government has lost faith in the ambitious – and controversial – rail project

It’s been more than a decade in the making – and was supposed to help connect English cities like never before. Now, delayed, over budget and more controversial than ever, HS2 ambitions have hit the buffers.

Rumours have been swirling for weeks that the Manchester to Birmingham leg would be scrapped – and that the fate of the line between Euston and Old Oak Common was hanging in the balance. Now as the Conservative party conference is in full swing – ironically in a former Manchester railway station – the speculation that Sunak is finally going to confirm the rumours has hit fever pitch. And it has caused an outpouring of anger from politicians in the North and Midlands, such as Manchester’s mayor, Andy Burnham.

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