High-speed rail line 2 will move forward to Leeds, government confirms
A planned key rail link that campaigners fear could be cut in cost cuts will be built, Transportation Secretary Grant Shapps insisted today.
The Cabinet minister tried to allay concerns about the future of the eastern section of High Speed 2 – and said he would go ahead.
He told the Policy Exchange think tank: “We are going to complete HS2 and include HS2 on the eastern stretch of Leeds.
“The only question we have is how do we best integrate this with plans that have been in place for a very long time since HS2 was first envisioned decades ago – and that concerns the Northern Powerhouse Rail.
Northern Powerhouse Rail would connect the six major cities of the North – Newcastle, Leeds, Hull, Sheffield, Manchester and Liverpool and Manchester Airport.
Plans for the eastern flank of HS2 were called into question in December after the National Infrastructure Commission said investment should flow into regional networks rather than building the full line to Leeds – fueling fears that the 225 mph does not extend to Yorkshire.
Phase 1 is scheduled to take place from London to Birmingham, phase 2a from Birmingham to Crewe and phase 2b from Crewe to Manchester and Birmingham to Leeds.
The government delayed decisions on the design of the section to Yorkshire until the publication of an integrated rail plan for the North and Midlands.
The plan was due to be released last year (2020), but the schedule has been scuttled by the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr Shapps said: “We will report on this soon and it will take into account not only the eastern section, but also how it fits better with Midlands Connect and the hub railways, which goes through the Northern Powerhouse Rail. “
The Transport Secretary said the government wants to accelerate the benefits of the eastern part, which experts say may not materialize until 2050.
“We think we can take this forward quite dramatically by building it smarter, and that’s what we’re looking at under IRP,” he added.
High Tory, who is also the ‘Minister for the North Power Station’ – although his constituency is in Hertfordshire – said he was determined to strengthen ties in the North.
He has hit on the time it takes to travel by train between Manchester and Leeds. The journey takes between 53 minutes and 83 minutes.
“If this road was in the southeast, you would get there in 30 minutes,” he said.
“But if you take this train service today, it winds, eventually you will have to give up hope before you get to your destination.
“We want the big cities of the north to be all connected – Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Huddersfield, Hull, Sheffield, Bradford, Newcastle – the whole thing.”
Northern Powerhouse Partnership Director Henri Murison said: “The Transport Secretary and Minister for Northern Powerhouse is doing exactly the right thing by promising to deliver the eastern section directly to Leeds, and now we need that. the government publicly commits to this in the Integrated Plan the Train ASAP.
“It is essential to ensure that leveling is a reality and not just rhetoric.”