Northern leaders have reacted with dismay to new claims that the leg is from HS2 to Leeds could be removed, while some Tory ‘Red Wall’ MPs celebrated the alleged disappearance of an ‘extremely expensive white elephant’.
Leaks from Whitehall all summer suggested the government would likely abandon plans to extend the high-speed train to Leeds. The latest, in the Sunday Mirror, quoted an anonymous source as saying that shutting down the eastern leg would save Â£ 40bn and “there is no way we can see that built in our lifetime.”
The Transport Department denied the decision had been made, saying the much-delayed integrated rail plan would “soon” chart the course for major rail projects. This will include Phase B of HS2, which was supposed to contain the western section to Manchester and the eastern section to Leeds.
Henri Murison, director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, which represents northern businesses, warned: its full economic benefits.
James Lewis, the head of Leeds City Council, said the latest leak jeopardized 10 years of planning and consultation that had won all-party support along the eastern route. âI will be extremely disappointed if we return to the drawing board,â he said. âThe constant pipeline of projects in London suggests that the upgrade is not underway. “
Leeds station is currently the busiest in the north and is a notorious bottleneck. HS2 was supposed to include a new station in the city.
West Yorkshire Mayor Tracy Brabin said: âThe government cannot talk about leveling and engaging in the north without addressing decades of underinvestment in our transport networks.
âThe eastern part of HS2 is essential in providing the rail services that work for our communities, as part of a common transportation system that connects people to better jobs, better education and more opportunities. ”
Others celebrated the idea that HS2 might never reach Yorkshire. Rother Valley MP Alexander Stafford is among several HS2 opponents among 2019 Tories.
He said: âWhat we need is money invested in transport infrastructure that could actually bring a tangible benefit to seats like mine. We need better bus service and better connections to Manchester across the Pennines rather than an extremely expensive white elephant that sucks resources from areas like mine and will only benefit a small number of people living in central Leeds.
HS2 supporters argue the plan is to open up capacity and connectivity with west and east coast main lines full ahead of the pandemic. It is currently expected to cost at least Â£ 103 billion.
Speculation is rife that HS2 will never reach Yorkshire since January 2020, when new HS2 Minister Andrew Stephenson pledged to “propose legislation to bring high-speed rail to Manchester as soon as possible. as possible “but made no mention of Leeds.
In October, Transport for the North, the statutory body that advises the government on the region’s transportation needs, expressed fears that the scenarios being considered by the government “all fall short of what is needed for full funding. HS2 âas well as Northern Powerhouse Rail, a new trans-Pennine line.
Then, in July, the government asked HS2 Ltd – the company established in 2009 to develop, build and operate HS2 – to stop work on the east spur but to continue development of the west spur from Crewe to Manchester. .
This month West Midlands Mayor Andy Street, formerly one of HS2’s biggest champions, told shocked MPs he believes the east leg was not needed for businesses in his area .
A Western Leg Bill is being prepared for tabling in Parliament in early 2022, HS2 Ltd. said.