HS2 Leeds Link Cut amid promises to Transform Rail

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The Leeds leg, which was part of the HS2 highspeed rail line, has been cancelled by the government As part of a bundleMinisters will change the way services are delivered

Grant Shapps, Transport Secretary has informed the Commons that the overhaul will allow for faster travel up to 10 years sooner than originally planned.

It was an indication that the government is acting in accordance with its goal of levelling up.

However, Mr Shapps is being accused of lowering his promises. Anti-HS2 activists welcomed the announcement.

There was also criticism that a significant portion of the £96bn pledged as new investment has already been announced, such as £360m to improve ticketing.

HS2 originally was intended to link London with Birmingham and Manchester. However, the HS2 route connecting Leeds and the East Midlands is now being scrapped.

  • Live updates for HS2 announcement

In delivering his Integrated Transport Plan, Mr Shapps explained to MPs that it was an “ambitious” programme for reorganizing inter-city transport links in the Midlands and north. It also “speeds up the benefits of local areas and serves destinations people are most eager to reach”.

The first phase of HS2 has been completed. It will link London with the West Midlands. Crewe is the extension of the line’s next section.

It was the final stage to transport HS2 between Manchester and Leeds.

On Thursday, Mr Shapps stated that the new blueprint would deliver three high-speed rail lines. That’s Crewe-to Manchester.

“Second, Birmingham and the East Midlands are connected by HS2 trains that continue to Sheffield and central Nottingham on an improved mainline.

“And, thirdly, an entirely new high speed line running from Warrington to Manchester to the western boundary of Yorkshire. It will cut journey times to the north.”

‘Betrayed’

Shapps, commenting on rail plans between East Midlands and Leeds, said: “We will study how best we can take HS2 trains in Leeds as well.”

However, this will likely be through upgrades to the existing rail network. This move was condemned by MPs as well as regional business leaders, who believe a high speed line is vital for the economic growth in the Midlands.

Government argues that quicker delivery with lower costs is the right approach. The argument is also that cash should be used to improve local services rather than high-speed inter-city links.

This won’t be accepted by those who would accept the original proposal for both Northern Powerhouse Rail and HS2 – including all of their capacity benefits as well as travel times. These people feel that a promise has been broken.

Bradford is an example. Bradford leaders consider a high-speed, new link to Manchester or Leeds essential for regeneration.

Today’s announcement will be a source of relief for HS2 opponents – which is a controversial project. Even though the Eastern leg has yet to be completed, the door is still open for it.

Businesses in Yorkshire, who had hoped that HS2 would provide jobs, investment, and confidence for some time, now feel the opportunity is gone.

Labour also point out that despite the £96bn label, much of this money had already been earmarked for HS2.

Labour claimed that the package reneged on previous promises regarding the extension of Northern Powerhouse Rail and HS2 was not being honored.

Jim McMahon Shadow Transport Secretary said it was the “betrayal, betrayal and investment betrayal the Midlands and North of England deserve”.

He said to the MPs, “There’s no gloss, and no spin that can put on this.”

Campaigners against the line rejoiced at news that a portion of HS2 had been scrapped.

Sandra Haith is a member of an anti-HS2 Bramley group, Rotherham. She said, “Not just as a Bramley resident, but also as a taxpayer. This is a total waste of money.

“The east leg, which connects two cities and costs quite a bit of money, is very expensive. We can’t get on it. It’s all pain, no gain.

“This and many other villages are suffering from this plague for over five and half years. Many people are already selling their houses and moving out of fear that they won’t be able to bear the stress.

Five and a half years ago, she fought the original plan. It would have led to the high-speed rail cutting through East Village as it followed M18.

Business leaders and railway heads in the Midlands also expressed appreciation for the announcement.

Midlands Connect Chair Sir John Peace said that although these plans were different from what was expected, they have a lot to be proud of – a new highspeed link between Birmingham and East Midlands Parkway as well direct links to HS2 for Derby and Nottingham. He also committed to the Midlands Rail Hub.

There is now certainty regarding projects in the area. The challenge for government is to move as quickly as possible in order to put spades in ground and deliver benefits to the local population sooner.

Source: BBC.com

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